Fire Destroys Furniture Warehouse
Witnesses were amazed how fast the flames spread Monday afternoon.
"You could see the flames coming out the side of the building, it was just melting so fast, the aluminum siding, was just melting so fast, and the tree caught on fire," said Evelyn Marker, a business owner in south west Gainesville.
The Gainesville Discount Mattress & Furniture Warehouse, 3424 SW 42nd Way, is completely destroyed.
"Loaded with furniture, and mattresses, and sofas, and its a high fire load; and anything, once it gets going, and it's a metal building, so it holds that heat in, so once that fire gets going in there- its really hard to get it out," said Joanne Rice, GRF District Fire chief.
According to officials, the owner, Greg Cristell, was inside the warehouse making a sale, when he smelled smoke coming from the upstairs loft.
Cristell used a fire extinguisher to put out the fire, and went downstairs to call 911.
That's when officials say the fire erupted.
It took firefighters an hour to contain the blaze. What caused it, is being investigated.
"Right now we're just trying to get in and pull some of that tin, and that metal off of the structure, so we can get to where the hot spots are and then we can really go in and do an investigation and make a determination on what really caused the fire," she said.
Cristell, a former University of Florida basketball player, has had a checkered business past, including numerous complaints to the Better Business Bureau, most of which were fully resolved. He had recently moved to this location.
"I'm still a little shaky, but I'm thankful that the firemen were here so quickly, and were able to contain it," said Marker.
Cristell declined an interview with TV20, but says, customers who had furniture in the building, will be taken care of.
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