MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A Miami strip mall went up in flames early Thursday morning which left several businesses severely damaged.
The fire broke out around 1:00 a.m. on Flagler Street between 67th and 69th Avenues.
The fire quickly spread to the attic connected to several businesses, making it difficult to extinguish.
“A whole bunch of smoke, burst of flames, glass flew everywhere on the street and a lot of debris,” said Erika Gonzalez who witnessed the businesses go up in flames. “The shelves we’re falling apart and burned.”
Jessica Gonzalez also witnessed the fire.
“I was worried that if one was gonna go down the rest were gonna go down,” said Gonzalez.
The fire destroyed three businesses including the undergarment shop “My Little Secret.”
The owner of ‘My Little Secret’ told CBS4’s Gaby Fleischman she is devastated.
“Everything is damaged, everything,” said Azuzela Jacome. She has owned the store for 13 years and does not have insurance.
It’s a devastating loss for her family.
“It’s stressful and hard for me to see it happen like that. She put all her time into it,” said the business owner’s son Marlin Silva.
A medical center and restaurant that just opened last week were also badly damaged.
“Just sad to see this go down like this,” said Geo Calvo of Los Compadres Restaurant.
The hardware store La Nueva Tijera is where fire crews believe the fire started.
It’s a total loss.
Miami fire rescue says the flames moved aggressively and spread through the attic which the stores share.
At one point, fire crews had to pull back from fighting the flames after the roof became unstable.
“One fire captain did fall halfway through the roof,” Miami Fire Rescue spokesman Ignatius Carroll said. The captain’s equipment caught him from a full fall and greater injury, Carroll said. He was pulled out by other firefighters and was not hurt.
Business owners say they are overwhelmed at the thought of starting from scratch but are relieved no one was injured.
“Material isn’t as important as a person’s life,” said business owner Humberto Ouduaoro in Spanish.
“I’m going to rebuild, I have to. It’s my business it’s what I live,” said Jacome, owner of My Little Secret.
“It’s gonna be a little struggle but we’ll get through it,” said Silva.
It took firefighters about 90 minutes to extinguish the fire.