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FIRE GUTS BRADENTON WAREHOUSE | ‘Out-of-control’ blaze causes nearly $1 million in damage

MANATEE -- A commercial building has almost $1 million in damage after it was engulfed in flames on Friday, Southern Manatee Fire Rescue said.

At 1:15 p.m., fire rescue received a call about the blaze on the 6000 block of 17th Street East.

No one was injured.

“Thank God,” said fire rescue Battalion Chief Ricardo Blanco. “Everybody’s OK.”

One firefighter was taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital after he slipped in water at the scene and twisted an ankle.

The building is one of seven that belong to Alumatech, a patio furniture company. The owner was on scene Friday but declined comment. Hank White, an employee with the business, said he ran to the building when he noticed the smoke. He switched off a 500-gallon propane gas tank inside the building and turned off the power.

After that, he said, “I grabbed the fire extinguisher and tried to put out what I could.” But the extinguisher ran out and the flames gained force.

“It was out of control,” White said.

Ray Frayer, another employee, said that when he exited another Alumatech building, he saw the flames. “Oh, boy,” he said to himself.

The building, White said, housed furniture and a powder-coating oven used to paint furniture.

On Friday afternoon, 23 firefighters and seven firetrucks were on scene, Blanco said. Cedar Hammock Fire Rescue assisted at the scene. Firefighters on the ground and on ladder trucks hosed down the blaze as Alumatech workers watched.

The ceiling of the building collapsed, making it unsafe for firefighters to go inside. Water flooded the dirt road. The fire was “dead center in the middle of the building,” Blanco said.

Neighboring buildings were not damaged, Blanco said. Pieces of furniture were brought outside of the structure.

The cost of damage is between $750,000 and $1 million, Blanco said, adding that about 15 cars were also damaged.

Three fire rescue investigators -- including one fire marshal -- and a state fire marshal were at the scene. But until the building cools down, Blanco said, they can’t go in to investigate.

“We’ll be here in the wee hours of the night,” Blanco said.

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