Fire erupts at Vemar Market in Miami Beach

Firefighters battle flames in roof of Washington Avenue store

By Peter Burke - Managing Editor, Erica Rakow - Reporter, Derek Shore - Reporter

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - Firefighters were battling a massive blaze Tuesday morning at a Miami Beach store.

The fire started about 6:45 a.m. at Vemar Market in the 1600 block of Washington Avenue.

Miami Beach firefighters were battling the flames in the attic of the building. They were using ladder trucks to douse the flames with water.

The roof later collapsed.

The store owner told Local 10 News reporter Erica Rakow that his store is open 24 hours. He said his overnight employees smelled something unusual, but waited a bit and notified Florida Power and Light before calling 911. 

"Something happened from outside, I think, so we don't see it inside our store," Goutam Chakravorty said. "Inside we get the smell, then I shut down the light, then the smell is not getting down, then my brother calls emergency 911. The ambulance come (and) then I go get out from my store."

Employee Uttam Kumar said his brother initially thought someone was smoking outside, but he soon realized that the store was on fire. 

Dozens of firefighters worked to get the fire under control for a couple of hours, spraying water from above, but unable to safely be inside because the roof collapsed.

"We had multiple layers of roofing that were falling down on top of each other, and we weren't able to get the water into the areas where we needed it," Miami Beach Fire Rescue Chief Jorge Linares said. 

Investigators are still looking into what started the fire, and the market's regulars are hoping the owner can re-build.

"It's a good store," Keishia Clark said. "Sad to see that it's burning down this morning when I was planning to get coffee."

No injuries were reported.

Authorities said three or four businesses in the same building were destroyed in the fire. 

"We can't believe it. I'm in shock, you know, right now because we don't know nothing," shop owner Jorge Kiseluk said.

Kiseluk owns Grooveman Music, a creative clothing store. He said his business of 15 years is now destroyed.

"We need to think about it, our next step, because we don't know," Kiseluk said. 

The fire marshal will determine the cause of the fire. 

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