Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition
Fire-induced explosion rattles Oakland Park warehouse district
OAKLAND PARK — Firefighters controlled an intense fire in an Oakland Park warehouse within 30 minutes, but the flames and exploding propane destroyed the building and left hundreds of people in the area without power, according to officials.
“There were multiple liquid petroleum [propane] tanks exploding due to the heat,” Oakland Park Fire Chief Steven Krivjanik said. “Even when I arrived, they were [still] exploding all around the street.”
The resulting thick plumes of dark gray smoke could be seen for miles.
“If people had been in there it would have been a disaster,” Krivjanik said.
It happened about 11 a.m. Wednesday in the 4200 block of Northeast Sixth Avenue, just southwest of Prospect Road and North Dixie Highway, in the Barco Sales and Manufacturing warehouse, city spokeswoman Shannon Vezina said.
“We do know that there was an explosion at the business there,” Vezina said.
People were evacuated from neighboring businesses as nearly 100 firefighters from Oakland Park, Fort Lauderdale and Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue battled the blaze.
Johnny McReed, 49, an employee at Barco for 22 years, said the company makes commercial grade foam for furniture.
All 14 employees escaped unhurt.
“They heard an explosion and saw the fire and everybody ran out,” he said.
McReed said he was making a delivery at the warehouse when the fire broke out, adding that the
company truck he was using, a 1999 Mercury Mountaineer, was destroyed.
“I parked it next to the propane tanks that we keep outside,” he said.
The roof and east wall of the one-story warehouse collapsed and the interior was gutted, Krivjanik said.
“There’s always issues when we have a fire because of the carcinogens in the burning product,” he said. “[Fire investigators] will determine that.”
Florida Power and Light shut down power in the area as a precaution, but restored power to most customers by 5 p.m.