On The Job - Tampa: Ybor City Inferno

Bill Wade reports on a massive fire that destroyed apartments and a post office, but has not diminished on-going revitalization efforts in a historic section of the city.


TAMPA FIRE RESCUE Chief Pete Botto Personnel: 526 career firefighters Apparatus: 19 engines, four aerial trucks, 12 rescue (ALS transport) units, four ARFF trucks, one ventilation truck Population: 290,000 Area: 120 square miles On the morning of May 19, 2000, members of Tampa Fire...


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Besides the area of origin, there are other similarities between the 1908 and 2000 Ybor fires. Most importantly, there were no serious injuries and no loss of life. At both fires the community rallied to aid the fire crews during the battle. Food, refreshments and fluids came from many different businesses and agencies. In the 1908 fire, with the large number of people homeless and unemployed, many service agencies came to the aid of those who had lost everything. After the 1908 fire, Ybor City had a great renaissance and was a central point for the community and socializing for several decades.

The 2000 fire slowed but has not diminished the on-going Ybor City revitalization efforts. The post office and apartments that were destroyed will be rebuilt. A major entertainment complex under construction will open in fall 2000. Tampa residents have a vested interest in maintaining the history of Ybor City as well as providing a safe and fun place for families and tourists to visit. A temporary wall of fire will not abate the modern resurgence of Ybor City.

MUTUAL AID COMPANIES: YBOR FIRE - MAY 19, 2000

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue
(A Shift)
Chief Bill Nesmith
Air Truck 15
Brush Trucks 18, 18A, 24
Engines 15, 18A, 24, 29, 32, 33
ALS Engine 9
Ladders 14, 17, 31
Rescues 14, 32, 33
Battalion Chiefs 2, 3, 4
Chief 5

Temple Terrace Fire Department
(A Shift)
Chief Ernie Hiers
Ladder 21

MacDill Air Force Base Fire Rescue
Chief John Warhul
Recalled all shifts

St. Petersburg Fire Rescue
Chief Jim Callahan
Engines 1, 7
Truck 1
District Chief 10

Pinellas Park Fire Rescue
Chief Ken Cramer
Engine 36
Truck 33

Largo Fire Rescue
Chief Carroll Williams
Engine 40
Truck 41

Seminole Fire Rescue
Chief Vicky Murphy
Engine 30

East Lake Fire Rescue
Chief Ron Taylor
Engine 58

Clearwater Fire Rescue
Chief Rowland Herald
Engine 49

Dunedin Fire Rescue Chief Bud Meyer
Truck 60

BUILDINGS DAMAGED OR DESTROYED

  • The Park at Ybor - 454 apartments under construction, estimated value $32 million, total loss.
  • U.S. Post Office, Ybor Station - Estimated value $4 million, total loss.
  • Tampa Bay Brewing Association - Estimated value $2.5 million, estimated loss $100,000.
  • U-Haul Corp. - Estimated value $1.5 million, estimated loss $100,000.
  • Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church - Estimated value $1.25 million, estimated loss $40,000.
  • Oliva Tobacco Co. - Estimated value $1.5 million, estimated loss $10,000.

Bill Wade is a Tampa Fire Rescue captain and public information officer.