Nearly half of Miami-Dade flea market merchants suffer ‘significant loss’ in fire, officials say

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Nearly half of the businesses at the Tropicana Flea Market in northwest Miami-Dade were destroyed in Thursday’s fire.

“We were able to save the entire south end and east end of the flea market, but approximately 40 percent of the flea market merchants will probably sustain significant loss,” said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Ray Jadallah.

On Friday, you could still see and smell what the flames did to the flea market at 2951 NW 36th St.

“It’s kind of surprising. It’s why I brought my a** down here this morning to see,” a man identified as Anton told Local 10 News.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue dispatched the first units shortly before 5 pm Thursdayand by 6:20 pm, the department had dispatched more than 45 units to deal with the massive fire that took more than 100 firefighters to extinguish.

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The massive fire destroyed nearly half of the businesses at Tropicana, just west of Northwest 27th Avenue, and south of the Airport Expressway.

The sunlight revealed a harsh truth for merchants — many of them immigrants, who put everything they had into their businesses.

Miguel Flórez pointed out to Local 10 what used to be his construction and gardening business.

He recently moved to the location after the Opa-locka Flea Market was set to be closed.

Now the business he had for more than 20 years is gone.

“All my life savings were there,” he said.

Another man, Patricio Pineda, owned a bike repair shop at the flea market.

“I have more than 200 bikes there, plus merchandise, like tubes, tires,” he said.

Pineda and his 11-year-old last came to see what could be salvaged on Friday.

“I was sad because we had a lot of things there and we waste a lot of money in it, and we had it for a long time,” Richard Pineda said.

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Patricio Pineda says this loss came on the same day he lost his father.

“I can’t even think about all this right now because my dad just died last night and I have to go to Santo Domingo,” he said.

Fire officials say the fire started at a food truck and quickly spread.

Several rabbits, chickens and birds were saved, but many others perished in the fire.

One man was severely burned and was rushed to a hospital.

the flea market advertise having more than 200 indoor and outdoor booths. Workers usually start to set up on Thursday since the flea market opens regularly to the public from 7 am to 7 pm, from Friday to Sunday.

The official cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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