Tar fire damages apartment complex under construction in West Miami-Dade

07/24/2013 6:03 PM

07/24/2013 9:51 PM

Miami-Dade fire officials on Wednesday brought a large fire under control on the rooftop of a West Miami apartment complex under construction.

The fire at the Gran Via Apartments broke out at 5:30 p.m. in the five-story building when a tar bucket on the rooftop fell over, ignited and then spread to other construction materials at the complex along Tamiami Trail and Southwest 127th Avenue.

The amount of damage to the building is undetermined.

The fire worsened due to heavy winds and then spread across the roof. There were approximately 10 workers on the roof, according to Lt. Arnold Piedrahita of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, and after they failed to put out the fire they called for help and made it to safety.

The building was not occupied at the time, fire officials said. No injuries were reported.

It took firefighters about 40 minutes to bring the blaze under control, largely because firefighters have to use foam instead of water on tar, Piedrahita said.

“The fire was very abrupt and very smoky,” said Luiz Zarat, who works at an animal clinic across the street from the complex.

Zarat said a similar, but smaller, fire broke out on the building’s rooftop about the same time on Sunday. Piedrahita said that blaze was sparked by a lightning strike.

The two incidents may slow down the construction of the complex, which broke ground a year ago and was initially expected to be completed by the end of October.

“There’s a big mess up there, they’re going to have to clean that up before any further construction continues,” said Piedrahita.

The Siltek Group is the contractor for the construction of the apartments, which are being built primarily for elderly and low income residents. A lottery for the units has already been completed.

The property is funded by Miami-Dade County’s Building Better Communities General Obligation Bond Program, a multi-billion dollar program that uses bonds to pay for projects like the Gran Via apartments and others.

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