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Last of firetrucks up for auction

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By Rachel Smith
Monday, July 31, 2006
 

Sean Stipp/Tribune-Review

Frank Tremel, of Owensville, Md., looks over a collection of firetrucks up for auction that were purchased by Sullivan F. "Sully" D'Amico, founder of Pechin's Shopping Village. D'Amico died in February 2005 at age 87. Dunbar-based Higinbotham-Butchko Auction Services Inc. will conduct the sale at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The last of more than 125 vintage firetrucks belonging to the estate of Pechin's Shopping Village founder Sullivan F. "Sully" D'Amico will be auctioned off at 10 a.m. Saturday in Denbo, liquidating a collection that took more than three decades to build.

"This is the last auction and the last of the trucks. There will be no more auctions," said auctioneer Ray Butchko, co-owner of Higinbotham-Butchko Auction Services Inc., which is overseeing the sale.

Before D'Amico died in February 2005 at age 87, he collected more than 760 vehicles, including firetrucks, classic cars and construction vehicles.

"After he died, the lawyers were estimating that he had approximately 150 vehicles. When we did the original appraisal of the estate, we found 763 vehicles stored throughout seven counties," Butchko said.

In March, about 60 of the firetrucks were sold in the first of a series of auctions to liquidate the collection. Since then, three auctions have taken place to sell some of the classic cars and all the heavy equipment.

D'Amico purchased the firetrucks and classic cars in hopes of one day opening a museum but died before he could see his dream fulfilled.

Now, the family has decided to liquidate the trucks, with the exception of four or five they will keep.

"There were so many. It was so unmanageable. They just decided they had to liquidate the trucks. Keeping a classic car is a lot different than keeping a 40-foot fire truck," Butchko said.

The upcoming auction in Washington County has generated interest among firetruck collectors across the country.

"We had a guy drive up here just today from Baltimore, and we've been getting lots of calls about the trucks. I wasn't aware that the firetruck collecting community was so extensive. There are collectors clubs for all different kinds of trucks," Butchko said.

Representatives from the Pennsylvania National Fire Museum in Harrisburg have made the trip to Washington County to check out the trucks up for sale.

Some of the trucks on the block will include models from Mack, Seagrave, LaFrance and Pirsch. Butchko noted he had never heard of some makes of trucks until he came across D'Amico's collection.

Butchko said many individuals who purchase the vintage firetrucks hope to restore them to drive them in parades.

Saturday's auction, as opposed to previous auctions, will be live because there will be a smaller number of firetrucks in one place.

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