Business owner suffering after fire at UPS distribution center in Hialeah

Andrew Gross says UPS usually delivers 50 boxes a day to business

By Jeff Weinsier - Investigative Reporter

HIALEAH, Fla. - More than 100 United Parcel Service employees were forced out of a Hialeah distribution center Wednesday by a series of fires, and the hundreds of packages meant for delivery are still stuck inside.

"We ship out hundreds and hundreds of boxes on Friday, and Friday is our biggest sort day," Andrew Gross of American Plumbing & Electrical Supply said.

The company's 33 employees had little to do Friday and the UPS deliveries are the company's lifeline.

Each morning, UPS delivers 50 boxes to the business.

"We haven't gotten a single box since Tuesday," Gross said.

Gross' deliveries come through the UPS distribution center in Hialeah, but the fires shut down the operation.

Gross said his company, which services 67 cruise ships and Navy ships for the Department of Defense, is in limbo.

Gross said he can't reorder some of the parts they are waiting for and now he has to explain that to the Navy.

"Right now, they have a ship down that they can't get their parts, and we don't know when they will be here," he said. "We have some fittings, in particular for our Navy ships, that are special. They don't have any more and those are the ones we need."

Gross said he has spent the last two days on the phone with UPS trying to get answers.

"We have spoken to every supervisor UPS has and I can't get an answer," he said.

The power remained off Friday at the UPS distribution center in Hialeah.

The investigation is still ongoing and a UPS representative in Atlanta said the state Fire Marshal's Office has not given them access to the building.

Merchandise being sent in is being rerouted to Miami, Jacksonville and Orlando, but there are delays.

"We have tried every way to see if we can get them, picked them up, have them re-routed, re-delivered, and we are told (that) we have to wait," Gross said. "They are basically holding our stuff hostage."

The cause of the fires hasn't been determined, but an employee said an electrical golf cart caught fire while it was plugged in.

"The initial fires were in bins that they use to discard materials," Hialeah Fire Department Capt. Cesar Espinosa said. "Whether it's packing materials or cardboard itself, that was the initial source of the first fires. The rest of them, we don't know what the source is."

No injuries were reported in the fire.

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