NW MIAMI DADE – (CBS4) – The owners of a paint and body shop destroyed when fire raced through a small block of North Miami-Dade businesses Wednesday have been blamed for helping to start the blaze by allegedly improperly storing chemicals. Officially, investigators have ruled the cause an accident.
The business owners are trying to clean up the mess left behind, but one company, JNH Transmissions, could see penalties beyonf their losses in the fire.
Lt. Arnold Piedrahita Jr., spokesperson for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, said investogators “discovered that the owners of the body shop were storing combustible chemicals in a make shift storage area at the rear of the shop. The improper storage of these chemicals contributed to the fire.”
Investigatoirs have yet to figure out what actually started the fire, and said demolition of the building may be needed for them to get the evidence they need.
Lt. Arnold Piedrahita said the shop owners “are facing hefty fines and will be responsible for cleaning up the chemicals.”
“Everyone is devastated because this is our livelihood you know. We are hurt bad,” said Harry from Harry’s Auto.
For Harry, the raging fire that ripped through his shop Wednesday afternoon burned down twenty years of business.
“You really can’t put a number on your livelihood you know. It’s devastating you know.”
The massive fire destroyed a string of businesses along the 76-hundred block of NW 27th Avenue including a tire shop, paint and body shop, flower shop and a restaurant.
“We lost a lot of money. Right now I don’t know where to start,” said Harry. “With God’s help we’ll try to make it.”
Fortunately nobody was hurt, but during the blaze a cocktail of chemicals filled the air and on the ground several propane tanks exploded.
Harry was busy working when the fire broke out. First he grabbed his fire extinguisher and then a hose before he ran to safety.
“When I saw the flames coming on the ground I had to get up and run for my life,” explained Harry.
Fire officials say the building is a total loss.
“This is a very laborious task, very intense, man power intensive,” said Lt. Peidrahita.