Ybor City fire damages neighboring businesses

- As flames shot through the roof of the Amphitheater in Ybor City, the owner of Ybor City Jazz House - right next door - was running out.

"I'm in good shape - and just going down two flights of stairs, I almost didn't make it out," Eric Fleming explained.

Ybor City Jazz House is his place, next door to the Amphitheater. He says his club has water and smoke damage, but the Amphitheater did not fair so well. The loss is significant.

Tampa Fire investigators said the fire started around 7:45 Wednesday night. A welder told them was working on installing a new disco ball when he sparked the fire.

It spread quickly and 60 fire fighters were soon on scene, trying to put it out.

Jason Fernandez, who owns several businesses in Ybor, got his staff and customers to a safe place. \

"Incredible job the fire department did in containing a fire of such magnitude to just two buildings," Fernandez recalled.

Another business owner said he was confused at first and thought someone was using a fog machine

Since the fire, a section of 7th Avenue, between 16th and 17th streets, remains closed and it would stay that  way until the fire marshal could determine if the building is safe.

As for Eric, he plans to fix his club and reopen someday soon - walking away from this close call with a life lesson: "Do not ever try to go through smoke and think you can make it. You can't."

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