MIAMI (CBS4) – A defunct restaurant went up in flames early Monday morning in Little Havana in what investigators believe was a deliberately set blaze.

Miami firefighters were called to the El Guireno Peruano – The Peruvian Rhythm – restaurant at 1515 Southwest at about 12:45 a.m. Flames were already shooting through the windows.

The grill in the place hasn’t been fired up for at least several weeks. The restaurant’s owner had fallen on hard times and had been formally evicted seven days ago.

The fire, that took fifteen fire trucks two hours to extinguish, is being called a probable arson, according to Miami Fire-Rescue Lt. Ignatius Carroll.

“The business has been shut down. There was no power, there was no gas, so nothing should have been happening inside this building at all,” Carroll said.

The fire was so intense the roof collapsed, causing firefighters to evacuate as the place came crashing down around them.

Firefighters poured water on the blaze and on neighboring buildings to keep them from catching fire.

In the building next door, Julian Sosa worried for his art and antique store and for his five cats.

“There was so much smoke and heat,” Sosa said. “I really thought that everything was going to set on fire but, thank God, they are fine.

Late into the light of day, investigators from the Miami Fire Department, Florida Fire Marshall’s office, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms pored over the ruins of the building.

One of the building’s owners, the restaurant’s landlord, declined to give her name or speak to reporters.

“I have no comment. I’m very sorry, I can’t comment on it. I don’t know what’s going on,” the woman said.

CBS4 News was unsuccessful in reaching the evicted restaurant owners for comment.

The restaurant’s state license to do business expired on October 1st because the owners were delinquent in paying for it. A recent inspection of the facility revealed 16 “critical” health code and food service violations.


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