FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — Traffic is back to normal on the routinely busy 17th street Causeway in Ft. Lauderdale after a spectacular fire shut the road down late Friday morning.
“It sounded like a loud explosion and I saw a big red flame and smoke in the sky,” said Joshua Muniz who was holding an advertising sign in the middle of the road when it started.
“It was kind of scary. I thought maybe the explosion would come this way, so I ran to the other side.”
Investigators say a demolition worker was using a blowtorch to remove the rails of an old carwash when the highly flammable brushes caught fire.
The worker dropped his tools and cell phone and ran out of the burning building without getting hurt.
“I ran into the building but it was pitch black,” said Jay Arnab who feared others were trapped. Fortunately no one was.
“It sounded like a real bomb, like a loud explosion, really loud,” said Arnab.
The building which is located just off Cordova Roadhad just been auctioned and was being taken apart since Tuesday, according to a city spokesman.
15 fire units were on scene trying to contain the stubborn two alarm blaze.
“The first units took three minutes to arrive and found the building fully involved,” said division Fire Chief Bob Bacic.
And while firefighters battled the blaze, traffic came to a stop on the causeway.
Police diverted drivers down side streets creating traffic jams near Port Everglades.
“Cops were out there directing traffic as best they could. It’s pretty fouled up out there,” said driver Scott Keebler who was trying to go East on the causeway.
We found Dawn Mikolasik walking over the causeway.
“The cars aren’t moving. I was stuck half an hour. I decided to get out and walk,” she laughed.
It took about two hours before traffic was moving normally in both directions.