Bill Fink, importer of vintage Morgan sports cars, dies in Bodega house fire
A Bodega man known for importing British sports cars to the United States died in a fire that destroyed his home early Monday morning.
Bill Fink, 77, was known in the car community for buying and selling vintage British sports cars hand-built by the Morgan Motor Company through his Bay Area business, Morgan Cars USA. Fink even worked to get Morgan cars to meet American emission standards, said his longtime friend, Kevin Rivette.
“He’s the only reason that Americans were able to get Morgans for a long time,” Rivette said.
Rivette knew Fink for about three decades through the Morgan Sports Car Club of Northern California and even bought a car from him. He said Fink was an affable guy “always good for a laugh” who had been “hooked” on Morgan sports cars ever since he studied in England as a Rhodes Scholar in the 1960s.
Rivette was stunned when he heard his friend had died in a house fire.
Just after midnight, authorities received reports of a fire at his Bodega home. When volunteers from the Bodega Fire Department arrived, heavy flames were coming out of every window of the rural, one- story house on the 800 block of Salmon Creek Road, said Shepley Schroth-Cary, the Gold Ridge and North Bay Fire Chief.
Fink’s wife, daughter and two friends who were visiting were able to get out safely. It appears Fink was trying to put out the fire, but became weak from all the smoke, said Charles Rivers, a fire inspector with Sonoma County Fire Prevention.
Firefighters initially entered the home to try and save Fink, but they were driven out by the flames before completing the search, Schroth-Cary said. A large bay window collapsed and the rush of air intensified the blaze, forcing commanders to take a more defensive approach from outside until it was safe to enter the home again.
“That decision was made because of firefighter safety,” Schroth-Cary said. “There was a really rapid fire spread throughout the house.”
Fink was found not far from the doorway in a large common area of his house, Schroth-Cary said.
Preliminary investigation shows that the fire may have been caused by a furnace in the guest bedroom, Rivers said. He said he suspected the furnace became so hot it ruptured a propane line, which sparked the fire.
“A number of the volunteers and first responders knew the victim. That’s hard for anyone that responds in a rural setting,” Schroth-Cary said.
“And in an effort to save somebody, they were close to the victim before being driven out by fire. That’s always tough when you’re close but not successful.”
Evelyn Casini, a longtime Bodega resident, called Fink a “good neighbor” and a “fine person.”
The day before he died, Fink attended a Morgan Club event called the annual “Oyster Run,” where he met with other members, including Rivette, in Marin County before they drove their cars together.
“The day before he passed, he was doing something he truly loved — driving Morgans,” Rivette said.