Ted and Robin Vernon are nationally known for their vast collection of vintage cars.
Several of those prized automobiles were damaged early Thursday morning when a fire swept through their classic-car warehouse, Ted Vernon Specialty Autos dealership.
The fire caused about a million dollars in damage, they said.
The blaze broke out around 4 a.m. in the warehouse at Northwest Seventh Avenue at 83rd Street in Miami-Dade. Firefighters responded to a call about heavy smoke in the area and spent about an hour bringing the blaze under control.
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The fire damaged at least 25 cars and the warehouse itself. Authorities say the fire appears suspicious.
"It’s just terrible," said Ted Vernon, who was out of town Thursday when the fire broke out. "I don’t even want to go back there and look right now. But that’s life. We’re not going to let this crush us."
Vernon was traveling to North Carolina to film his classic car-themed TV show, South Beach Classics, which airs on the Discovery Network’s Velocity channel. The fire also damaged his own Rolls Royce.
Vernon and his wife, Robin, suspect that a former contractor for the company set the fire. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue did not release the fire’s cause on Thursday.
“I’ve been trying to get the police to do something about this person for a while now because he’s been threatening to hurt me and even said he was going to burn this all down,” Ted Vernon said.
Vernon said many of the cars damaged or destroyed were valued at more than $100,000, and that the overall damage to cars and warehouse is estimated at over $1 million.
The Vernons have been known for years for their unique cars which they buy, sell and trade among a customer base that includes South Florida celebrities. The warehouse typically holds over 300 cars at a time.
"Every obstacle we’ve ever faced, we’ve overcome,” Robin Vernon said. “We’ll survive.”