Thomas Paules of Bowmanstown never imagined how his life could change in a matter of moments. But that's what happened on Nov. 24 when he lost all his tools, car parts and equipment in a devastating fire that burned his garage.
"He lost everything. What was in that garage was his life. It was everything he owned. He spent all his time in there, except when he worked and slept," says his aunt Wendy Borger of Bowmanstown, Fleet Administrator for Pencor Service Center in Palmerton.
He loves to work on cars and riding mowers.
"He's a creative mechanic and loves to soup up riding mowers. He's not one to sit around. He always has to be working on something," says Wendy.
He had just put in a new wood burning stove that Monday, Nov. 19. That following Saturday, he was working in the garage with his girlfriend, Shawna Smith. It was a very windy day and it is believed the stove sent sparks that began a fire. He tried to put the fire out with two fire extinguishers and ran to the house to get anything liquid from water, milk, juice, even half and half cream.
He tried to rescue as much as he could, going back into the garage three times with his girlfriend trying to prevent him before he got hurt, but all he could say was, "It's my life. I have to save it!"
But everything was destroyed. He and his girlfriend were treated at the hospital for smoke inhalation and discharged that night.
He received $1,000 from his insurance for the garage's contents but that doesn't begin to cover his loss.
"He figures it would be closer to $10,000. He had just purchased a new rear end for his Jeep for $3,000 and a $3,000 transmission for his dad's Jeep (Timmy Paules.) He lost all his mechanic tools he had when he attended Penn Tech, saws, drills, his cell phone, and so much more. My mom had some of my dad's, (Clark Paules)personal items like photos stored in there that were lost," says Wendy.
Wendy feels so bad for her nephew that she is conducting a Tool Drive for him from now until Christmas. She's hoping the community will help Tom able get back to his passion of working on cars and riding mowers by donating used and new tools or even donating money for him to purchase new tools. They can be dropped off at 334 White St., Bowmanstown any Saturday between 9 a.m.-2 p.m. or call (610) 852-4247.
"This would just mean so much to him," says Wendy.