FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – It was a scary, smoke-filled night for part of Fort Lauderdale after flames ripped through a warehouse while people were still inside.
Fortunately, everyone was able to make it out of the building safely.
Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue personnel told Local 10 News reporter Roy Ramos the fire broke out Wednesday night at the Wash and Lube auto repair shop off Powerline Road north of Commercial Boulevard.
According to Fire Marshal Jeff Lucas, three people were inside the auto repair shop replacing a white Chevrolet Express van’s fuel pump when the fire occurred.
He said in order to replace the fuel pump, the gas tank must first be removed because the fuel pump is in the gas tank, and all of the gas needs to be removed.
He said the employees were pumping gas out of the gas tank into a container when the pump exploded due to a spark.
Inside the warehouse, gas and oil made battling the blaze a challenge for firefighters.
At one point, more than 55 firefighters pulled back and switched to a defensive attack.
“There were reports of explosions up to several blocks away,” said Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Stephen Gollan.
Video released by Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue showed how they fought the blaze from the ground and from above on the roof.
“Some of the cars inside one of those warehouse that they work on had caught fire and the fire was rapidly spreading to the other units,” said Gollan.
One person was treated for smoke inhalation and a man pulled the shop dog from the scorching inferno.
“He had pulled the dog out shortly after the explosion and was holding him in safety across the street,” Gollan said.
Authorities said the fire gutted the business, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.
Four adjacent businesses in the building were also damaged due to smoke and six vehicles were damaged.
“It’s terrible what happened, but we’ll always be able to rebuild. We’re insured properly. I feel bad for my tenants,” building owner Izzy Wiseman said.
According to Lucas, the pump employees were using was not designed to pump fuel and may have been meant to pump water or some other substance.
“It was an intrinsic pump, so it had a spark or ignition source located in the pump, which ignited the fuel,” he said.
Lucas stressed the importance of using the right tools for the job, warning that the damage could be catastrophic.
“These guys lost everything in their business. They don’t have anything left,” he said. “They had a $20 pump compared to probably a $200 pump that was made for pumping gasoline, so if you’re going to pump gasoline, you should have the right tools.”