The fire that destroyed Togami Auto Repair on Almaden Avenue at Willow Street in San Jose is not the first tragedy at this place, but this one certainly comes during a difficult time. The owner Eric Togami has faced tragedy before. Friends say his father was killed when he was hit by a car outside the repair shop in the late 1990s. Now, Eric is in the fight of his life.
"Eric has Stage 4 colon cancer and this has really been a tragic couple of years in general. So, just to see this is just horrifying to me," said Carol Marmorek, friend.
"It hurts my heart. This is his livelihood. This is his passion," said Kevin Tigue, owner's friend.
Firefighters say the fire started while mechanics were working on a car last night. A two story apartment building next door was evacuated, but firefighters were able to stop the flames from spreading. However, Togami Auto Repair is now red-tagged; inside a burned out mess. Its reputation though remains intact. Friends say Eric Togami is a generous man and are hoping the many people he helped will come to his aid.
"Not charging the right amount -- just trying to help people out. I'm always yelling at him - 'you need to charge more. Look at this, what are you doing?' He's a really good guy," said Marmorek.
"Everybody that I know is going to be calling to see what they can do to help him because that's just wrong for that to happen," said Tigue.
Togami Auto Repair opened in 1963. The rebuilding process could take a long time, but the owner does have insurance.
Almaden Ave. between Willow and Goodyear closed because firefighters concerned about building collapse from fire. pic.twitter.com/JLNB9tyjOj— Matt Keller (@MattKellerABC7) May 16, 2016