MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When city of Miami firefighters arrived at a major fire along the Seybold Canal around 6 p.m. Tuesday, they saw flames leaping 20 feet into the air and several boats and a building on fire.
Maruccio Vasquez was nearby when the fire broke out. The boatyard, Popeye Marine, is owned by his grandfather, Jorge.
“I heard a big, loud pop,” Vasquez said. “With boats and gas and chemicals and all that stuff, it’s gonna burn. That’s no secret.”
Jorge Vasquez has owned the business for 35 years. He was away from the business having a meal when the fire broke out. He said on his way back he saw the smoke and had no idea it was his boatyard on fire. He said two men were inside the building working on a boat engine when something went wrong.
“When (one of the men) saw it blow up, he scared so he run away,” Vasquez said. “They have no chance to do anything.”
Fire officials told CBS4 News that one of the men in the building got singed on his hair and face, but otherwise, everyone was OK.
Dozens of firefighters fought the blaze from the ground, from a crane and from the water. Capt. Ignatius Carroll says it was so intense that firefighters had to leave the building.
“The ceiling started to collapse,” Carroll said. “The walls started to become unstable with the threats of it possibly collapsing at which time it’s not worth it for our firefighters to go in there and risk their lives.”
For firefighters, the key was to prevent the fire from spreading to other buildings and homes in the tightly packed area. They were successful but not before the fire destroyed two boats, a building and damaged several other boats.
For Jorge Vasquez, it was tough to watch his life’s work go up in flames. He’s not sure whether to rebuild.
“It’s hard,” he said. “You never know what can happen in your life.”
His grandson, Mauriccio, is grateful that no one was seriously hurt.
“At least nobody died,” he said. At least nobody was hurt. It’s getting taken care of. It’s a step back but it’s nothing you can’t move forward from. It’s life.”
Miami Fire Rescue officials said they’re still trying to figure out exactly what caused the fire.