Explosion cause apparently still being investigated


Nearly eight months since an explosion and fire at Jimbo’s Auto Repair in Hillsboro killed three people, the cause of the incident has not been determined.

“I haven’t gotten any final report from the fire marshal, so I still haven’t ruled,” said Highland County Coroner Jeff Beery. “The manner [of death] cannot be determined.”

The State Fire Marshal’s Office did not return messages Tuesday seeking information on the explosion and fire.

Those killed in the Nov. 28, 2023, fire and explosion were David Beaver, Tim Furbee and 19-year-old Cameron Boatman, who were all employees at the auto shop.

A fourth person who was injured in the explosion was the mother of James “Jimbo” Chambers, the business owner. He had left the shop just prior to the explosion and returned afterward.

Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District Chief Dave Manning previously said his department received a call reporting the incident at 4:02 p.m. that day. He said that upon arrival at the scene there was debris everywhere and the auto repair shop at 502 S. High St. was heavily involved in fire and smoke, which had extended to a vacant building immediately to the east.

“From what I felt at the firehouse and from what I’ve seen, I think that says a whole lot,” Manning said about an explosion being the cause of the fire.

Several people at nearby businesses said an explosion heavily shook their buildings.

Manning said all three of the deceased and the injured person were inside the building.

In addition, he said a female firefighter slipped on the ice at the scene and was treated and released at Highland District Hospital.

A large number of vehicles on the lot were damaged or destroyed.

Manning said it was probably around 11 p.m. before the local firefighters had cleared and scene and cleaned everything up. Firefighters were called back at 12:20 a.m. the next day after the fire rekindled, and again after daybreak that day with the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

“There was some debris and smoldering that we couldn’t get to because we didn’t want to mess up the scene for the fire marshal’s office,” Manning said.

He said it would be up to the fire marshal’s office to determine what caused the explosion.

Larry’s Party Shop, located immediately to the east of the vacant building that was damaged, has been closed due to smoke and water damage from firefighters battling the fire in the attic of the neighboring building. Owner Shane Wilkin previously said he plans to reopen the business.

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