Miami Fire Rescue waged war against flames shooting out of the Coin Laundry at Northwest 23rd Avenue and Northwest 7th Street Friday night. No injuries were reported, and the cause of the fire was not immediately known.
Evelyn Rivera and her family saw the fire erupt at about 5:30 p.m. from their nearby home.
"I was like, 'oh, what if it spreads or something happens, or it explodes,' so that's why we were outside across the street," she explained.
Up close, firefighters noticed that, despite their efforts, the burning was not letting up.
"As firefighters started to make their way in to try and fight this fire, we saw that the fire started to get progressively worse," said Miami Fire Rescue spokesman Lt. Ignatius Carroll.
It took fire crews about six hours to stamp out the fire, and investigate hot spots. At times, the hoses seemed to knock down the flames, but then they flickered back. The back-to-back blazes were believed to be accelerated by the same machines that kept Coin Laundry running.
"The dryer vents inside," Carroll pointed out. "The fire gets into there and in combination with the lint and it spreads rather quickly into areas that you can't see."
Carroll said as many as five people inside the laundromat escaped, and, to their knowledge, an upstairs office was empty.
"At least, you know, everybody's good. Everybody's safe," said Maria Gallardo, who co-owns Coin Laundry.
Just five months ago, Gallardo said she, her husband and their friends opened the laundromat with plans to expand next year. Then, Friday afternoon, they watched surveillance video from their cell phones of their new investment going up in flames.
"We saw that all the smoke in our phone, and I told my husband, 'this doesn't look good.' And, all of a sudden, the phone died. You know? The cameras die, and we couldn't see anything else," she said.
Miami Fire Rescue inspectors are working to determine what caused the blaze.