MANATEE - Two fires broke out eight hours apart in the past two days in the same roof area at Phoenix Center shopping center in the 5800 block of 14th Street West.
The fires, one starting at 6:35 p.m. Monday and one at 1:50 a.m. Tuesday, resulted in a combined $100,000 worth of structural damage and $50,000 in damages to contents inside individual stores, said Fire Marshall Jeff Hoyle of Cedar Hammock Fire Rescue.
There were no injuries.
Both fires, which appear to be electrical and related to wiring running to a sign on the shopping center, are being ruled as accidental, Hoyle said.
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“The fires were in the roof area of the shopping center, where they have a facade that creates a covered walk-up,” Hoyle said.
The initial fire at 6:35 p.m. Monday brought seven fire trucks, an ambulance and an EMS supervisor to the location to battle flames coming from the roof and impacting four stores in the shopping center, Hoyle said.
“You had an auto insurance company called Insurance Direct, a Check and Go, a tax and accounting office and an A-1 Temps business, that was empty at the time, but also sustained smoke and water damage,” Hoyle said.
After putting out the initial fire at 7:15 p.m., an electrician was brought in to see if it was safe to turn the electricity back on.
“Our on-scene commander advised the shopping center officials to have a licensed electrician return and one returned to the scene,” Hoyle said. “There were people in the building cleaning up who wanted to have lighting.”
The electrician decided to reestablish electricity in the building for the workers who left around 11:50 p.m.
Then, at 1:50 a.m. Tuesday, with everyone gone, a second fire broke out in the sign area, Hoyle added.
“There was a gap of two hours,” Hoyle said. “The second fire burned at the top of the roof at Check and Go and Direct Auto Insurance,” Hoyle said.
A call to 911 on the first fire led firefighters to a pool store in the shopping center, but they soon realized the fire was actually affecting neighboring stores, Hoyle said.