KEY WEST, Fla. – Firefighters responded to a two-story building fire on a cloudy Wednesday morning in Key West while the area was under tropical storm conditions. The fire devastated businesses and left several homeless.
Part of the parking lot was flooded, as the flames engulfed the Flagler Center III building, at 3201 Flagler Ave., which has commercial real estate on the first floor and residential on the second.
“The apartment filled up with smoke. I called 911 and got the heck out,” said Selena Coppert, a resident of one of the building’s 14 apartment units.
Melissa Munoz-Kokenzie, a chiropractor who runs Bone Island Chiropractic on the building’s first-floor suite 509, said the fire was devastating.
“I am sick, sick to my stomach. I don’t know how to recover from this. I’m just in shock right now,” Munoz-Kokenzie said.
No one was injured. Authorities were on alert amid the threat of Hurricane Ian, which was about 45 miles west-northwest of Naples.
The hurricane prompted a storm surge warning — to indicate a danger of life-threatening inundation — from Big Pine Key to Key West and the Dry Tortugas National Park.
“I was concerned about ... surviving my first hurricane, and we got through that just to find out we lost everything in a fire,” Scarlett Farnum said.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation on Wednesday afternoon.
Torres contributed to this report from Miami.