Florida Firefighters Strategically Handle Asphalt Fire

Fire damage is estimated at $750,000 to a storage hanger at an asphalt company in the Miami suburb of Medley.


No one was injured in Monday's fire.

The cause is under investigation, but fire officials say it may have started when hot asphalt being handled by workers came in contact with diesel fuel.

Images From The Scene

The fire broke out just before 11 a.m. at the facility on Northwest 121st Way.

"I really was scared. We came out here and saw the whole thing," said Sylvia Vizamora, a witness.

Workers in nearby offices immediately dialed 911. About 50 Miami-Dade firefighters responded to the scene. Once the crews confirmed workers had been cleared from the site, they carefully assessed the situation, making it a priority to cool down several tanks full of diesel fuel before they too erupted.

"We put up two aerials with 1,000 gallons a minute on each stick, putting water onto those tanks. We did prevent them from exploding. What we did was kept the fire in check, waited for the foam truck to arrive, and we put several thousand gallons of foam on there," said Lt. Eric Baum, of the Miami-Dade Fire Department.

"We have a lot of combustible fuel. I was able to explain to them where the valves were to shut the flames out," said Mariano Andrade, of the Brewer Company of South Florida.

The manager of the asphalt company arrived at the scene minutes later, providing firefighters with valuable information.

"We'll do a risk-benefit analysis to see what kind of risks firefighters will be willing to take. We had to get in close to position a few lines, but this is what we train to do. This is what firefighters enjoy doing -- putting out fires," Baum said.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokeswoman Shari Holbert Lipner said the industrial area around the company was evacuated of workers, but nearby homes were not evacuated.

Fire officials said prevailing winds carried smoke away from that neighborhood, so no evacuation was needed.

No injuries were reported.

At the height of the fire, thick, black smoke could be seen from miles away.

Firefighters brought a foam truck in from Miami International Airport to spray the fire, which was mostly out by 12:15 p.m.

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