DELRAY BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) — Four teens have been arrested and charged with burglary and arson after they allegedly sparked a fire at an unused train station in Delray Beach.
Delray Beach and Palm Beach firefighters contained the fire that erupted near Interstate 95 and Atlantic Avenue, at around 10:15 a.m., Tuesday.
Police said surveillance video from the station showed four juveniles, who attend a local high school, running from the scene.
“We saw smoking first, and then maybe 10 minutes later, they had bars on the windows,” said Mark Glenhill, who works near the station. “The bars were burning through, weird cracking, and then all of sudden flames were shooting out.”
According to Tri-Rail, the fire stopped all train traffic on the tracks near the abandoned station.
The train station was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.
“Back in the ’50s, my dad used to work out here as a porter. When the train stopped, he put people’s luggage on the train,” said Winnie Gipson. “When I saw it I was heartbroken because I was raised up around this area. We used to go over there all the time with our daddy.”
It was built in 1927, and now it has been destroyed.
“When I saw the black flames, I could tell the fire was still going, and I got over here, and the building inside was engulfed in flames. It was pretty bad,” said witness Lawanda Lawson.
“When firefighters arrived, they did encounter that heavy smoke and immediately began defensive operations to try to put that fire out,” Delray Beach Fire Rescue spokesperson Dani Moschella said. “They did some venting in the ceiling, they used those aerial operations, the ladder trucks, to fight the fire from the air. They called in Palm Beach County Fire Rescue to assist as well.”
More than 30 units from both fire rescue agencies responded to fight the fire tearing through the biggest piece of Delray Beach history.
“You could feel the heat. We must’ve been 60 yards away, and we really felt the heat come off of it,” said Glenhill. “The towers were just dropping off. You could hear the cracking and the smashing on the floor.”
Breezy weather conditions made putting out the fire tricky, leaving crews out for hours trying to get the fire under control.
“They wanted to make sure that it’s completely safe, that there were no hot spots,” Moschelli said. “We have one Delray Beach firefighter who was injured, transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, thankfully.”
The Tri-Rail and AmTrak trains were halted for part of the day.
Though the train station was no longer in use, the city was in the process of renovating the 7,500-square foot building into office space. That is now no longer the case.
“Definitely useless, definitely. They can’t replace it because they’ll have to pull it down now, it’s strictly unsafe,” Glenhill said.
They set up a “bus bridge” between their Delray Beach and Boynton Beach stations for people who needed to catch the train.
The teens have since been taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center.
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