Man battling cancer devastated after auto shop burns down

Craighead County Fire
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - A Region 8 man's pride and joy burned to ashes as fire crews worked to put out a massive fire that destroyed his auto shop near Weiner.

Not only did he lose his shop, but he's also losing his life to cancer which is why this tragic experience is absolutely devastating to him.

When Billy Lesley got the terrible news, he was in his bed in a mobile home directly behind his auto shop that caught fire.

Lesley said that his neighbor is the one who told him about the fire.

"He come over and knocked on the door," said Lesley. "And I slipped my britches on and got to the door and answered it, and he said your building is on fire! I got over $70,000 tied up in that building and its content."

Thousands of dollars went up in flames after the fire destroyed not only the insulated building and shop equipment Lesley had invested in it, but also two vehicles that he said were like new.

"I couldn't believe it because I know how hard they've been working on this and how much they've been taking care of it," said Maria Ceniceros, a neighbor and good friend to the building owners.

Ceniceros is always watching over Lesley's home while he and Mae Jones, his girlfriend, take several 10-hour trips to Lexington, Kentucky for his chemo and radiation treatment. Now, this fire has only added to the heavy burden already on their shoulders.

"With the two vehicles and dealing with him having this lung cancer," said Jones.  "The doctors have given him only two months to live if he doesn't get the treatments done."

But even at the age of 80 and with two months to live, Lesley has built his auto shop from scratch.

"That man can walk and he works hard," said Ceniceros. "He's in there working all of the time and he gets things going, like what is he going to do now you know, rebuild it again but with what?"

Ceniceros and the couple both believe this fire was intentionally started and feels that a crime done in the dark shall come to the light.

"I just hope if somebody did this and somebody did this on purpose, they're going to get Karma," said Ceniceros.  "Karma always gets people back too so the truth will come out sooner or later."

According to the Valley View Fire Department, the fire is still under investigation.

Even through these hard times, the couple is grateful to be alive knowing that you can always replace a shop, but you can never replace a life.

Copyright 2016 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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