Authorities are investing the cause of a fire that swept through a Miami strip mall late Wednesday night, damaging several businesses and killing as many as 30 puppies in a pet store.
Miami Fire Rescue spokesman Lt. Ignatius Carroll said authorities received 911 calls around 10 p.m. of smoke coming from the building at 3243 Northwest 7th Street.
When firefighters arrived, they found heavy flames coming from the attic of the building which houses seven businesses. The fire grew rapidly and took some 40 firefighters a little over an hour to put out, Carroll said.
When firefighters began searching the businesses, they made a heartbreaking discovery inside Beverly Hills Puppies, a store that specializes in English and French bulldog puppies.
"It appears that we have over 15-20 puppies that may have died as a result of this fire," Carroll said. "Unfortunately none of the puppies survived this fast-moving blaze."
Martin Leon, owner of Beverly Hills Puppies, said the dogs were worth about $2,000 a piece and he has no insurance.
"We've been destroyed because of the fire, the puppies passed away," he said.
Another business that provides food to elderly people in their houses and at nursing homes was also damaged.
Alejandro Medina, the owner of La America Cantina, said they deliver lunch to about 400 elderly people every day but they won't be able to make deliveries Thursday.
He was busy Thursday morning removing boxes of frozen food from the business and said he would move to another facility to keep the business running the next couple days.
Carroll said the roof was unstable and the business owners wouldn't be allowed in the building until it's deemed safe.
The fire is believed to have begun at Fancy Beads, where owner John Martinez said he's been in business for 10 years.
"I'm devastated, I'm still in shock," Martinez said. "I just don't know what I'm gonna do, it's the only business I have."
No firefighters were injured and the cause of the fire is being investigated, Carroll said.
"Investigators have found what they believe is like a 3-in-1 type of plug that was inside the socket but then there were several other plugs plugged into that including the surge protector that looked like it'd been a serious overload," he said.
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