NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Firefighters have gotten a fire under control that, officials said, spread across a flea market in Northwest Miami-Dade and left one person seriously injured.
According to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, at least 40% of the Tropicana Flea Market has been destroyed in Thursday’s blaze.
Business owners waited outside the flea market Friday morning, and were allowed back inside to cover their areas with tarps and take any perishables.
An aerial view captured a dark cloud of smoke billowing into the sky above the flea market, located in the area of Northwest 37th Street and 30th Avenue, near the east end of Miami International Airport and right off the 112 Expressway, at around 5 p.m.
Responding Miami-Dade Fire Rescue crews were seen surveying the scene of the third-alarm fire and dousing the burning building with water.
“Initially, it was a food truck that was on fire,” said MDFR Deputy Chief Ray Jadallah. “[It spread to] various shops, from machinery, vehicle parts and furnishings.”
Officials said the flames quickly spread across an area of about 150 feet of shops.
Officials said one civilian suffered moderate burns near the food truck and was transported to Ryder Trauma Center. The patient’s condition is unknown.
Cellphone video captured the victim sitting in the rear of a fire truck.
Officials said the flames eventually spread to an adjoining warehouse housing live animals.
“Fifty to 60 birds, rabbits, chickens. We were able to pull out what appears to be approximately two dozen of those various animals,” said Jadallah. “Unfortunately, we did have quite a few that succumbed to the fire.”
7SkyForce captured flames and smoke near air conditioning units on the roof of the warehouse.
Vendors and shoppers were seen standing on Northwest 36th Street, near where MDFR’s command post is located.
A family that owns a boutique at the market said they were not inside when the fire started.
“It’s really near where my mom would keep her post, which is just a simple clothes shop, and we’re right next to, more or less, a restaurant or a cafe of some sorts within the flea market,” said a family member.
The family member said he’s worried that the source of their livelihood may be gone.
“Looking as where the [smoke] is, I hope not, but most likely it is,” he said, “which is very unfortunate, because she enjoyed running it, so it’s very unfortunate, you know?”
Just after 6:30 p.m., the smoke was lighter in color and much of it had dissipated, as crews continue to make progress.
Other vendors were seen standing at the gates of the flea market, which is as close as they were allowed to get as more than 100 firefighters worked to contain the flames.
A vendor said they drove over to the flea market after learning about the fire, only to be shut out of the building.
“I think we lost everything. I’m not sure,” said a vendor.
“A lot of these people are practically going to lose their businesses, and they’re going to have no money to replace some of the stuff that has burned,” said a second vendor.
Speaking through a translator, vendor Tari Espinoza conveyed the magnitude of what she has lost.
“My life is falling apart because there are many of my savings, so many years of sacrifice and missing out on vacations with my kids to be here and give my time to the business, and now I hear this. It’s very difficult,” she said.
“There are generations of families that have been here. We’ve been here for about five, six years already, so it’s not something that we just started,” said the second vendor. “This is people’s generations after generations who have been coming over here, so it’s very concerning for, obviously, the community and the people who live in the area who have invested their lives into these businesses.”
No fire officials were injured.
Just before 10 p.m., crews cleared Northwest 36th Street and the other areas where fire vehicles surrounded the flea market.
Officials have not provided a cause for the fire. In addition to the food truck, possible causes include a separate small fire outside the flea market and a possible explosion.
An investigation is underway.
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