Live Video – Fire destroys Amphitheater nightclub in Ybor City, Tampa

Amphitheatre Club fire (1)Fire destroys Amphitheater club in Ybor City

Crews battled a three-alarm fire Wednesday, April 6th, at the Amphitheater nightclub in Ybor City. The fire broke out around 8 p.m. at the club, located at 1609 E 7th Ave.

Firefighters focused on preventing the fire from spreading to the attached businesses. Officials said the fire was confined to the Amphitheater.

Much of the historic 7th Avenue building was destroyed, and two firefighters were hospitalized due to smoke inhalation during the fire fight.

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ABC Action News reported, “A welder who was trying to install a new bracket to relocate a disco ball tells the Tampa Fire department that his work may be the reason a historic Ybor City building was destroyed.”  The Daily Sun printed, “Officials believe a welder was doing work on the two-story building when an arc ignited material covering the ceiling.” Newspaper

John Santoro previously owned the club but had shut it down in 2007 amid financial troubles and dwindling business, leaving a gaping hole in the dance music scene. He decided to give it another shot and reopened in 2011. He upgraded the sound system, rebuilt the upstairs bar and VIP area and repaired the revolving dance floor.

I, personally, loved that club immensely.  Clearly, many others did too as they took to Facebook to post about their favorite memories, condolences to the Santoros and to say how much they appreciated the venue.

Many world famous djs have performed at the club.  Scheduled to play this weekend was Morgan Page, who also posted on Facebook about the fire.Morgan Page (2)

Posts from the Santoros were very touching.  john rena

Have a read through some of the comments left in regards to the loss of the night club:

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As you can see, the event has sadden many, and positive thoughts go out for the future of the business.  Already, the Amphitheater team has gotten together to discuss a plan of action.  Rena (2)

ABC Action News on the incident:

A welder who was trying to install a new bracket to relocate a disco ball tells the Tampa Fire department that his work may be the reason a historic Ybor City building was destroyed.

Fire department spokesperson Jason Penny tells ABC Action News that sparks from the second floor installation work appear to have ignited old fire retardant in the ceiling of the Ybor Amphitheater, leading to a three-alarm fire late Wednesday night.

Much of the historic 7th Avenue building was destroyed, and two firefighters were hospitalized due to smoke inhalation during the fire fight.

Tampa Bay Times:

Fans of electronic dance music rejoiced when local music promoter John Santoro returned to Ybor City to reopen the Amphitheater, a concert venue on Seventh Avenue.

On Thursday, almost five years since that day, the 12,000-square-foot club lay in ruin. A fire started by a welding spark tore through the century-old, two-story building Wednesday night. And the impact of the blaze in the heart of Ybor City reached beyond the Amphitheater’s walls.

The damage was so extensive that the fire marshal and code enforcement officers ordered at least seven other businesses on the block — from Buffalo Wild Wings to Tabanero Cigars — to evacuate and remain closed until engineers ensured those buildings were still structurally sound.

Tampa Fire Rescue spokesman Jason Penny said late Thursday that part of Seventh Avenue that closed because of the fire should reopen today and that most businesses on the block have been deemed safe to enter.

The closures, however brief, came at a bad time for business owners who hoped to cash in on a busy weekend in Tampa. The NCAA’s Frozen Four Division I hockey tournament began at Amalie Arena on Thursday and ends Saturday. The Italian Festival in Ybor runs through Sunday.

“People are losing money, people are out of work, but we’re balancing that with the safety aspect,” Penny said. “We want to do things the right way as quickly as we can.”

The fire was reported shortly before 8 p.m. When fire units arrived, they saw flames shooting through the roof. The blaze filled Ybor City with heavy, black smoke as about 60 firefighters rushed to the scene. Police closed down Seventh Avenue between N 15th Street and N 17th Street.

The fire took more than six hours to get under control.

Penny said a welder accidentally ignited some insulation while trying to install a new bracket to relocate a disco ball. He said the fire grew too fast for the sprinkler system to handle.

The building, valued at just under $1 million, was not open to the public at the time, and three people inside when the fire started escaped safely.

A structural engineer was on scene Thursday, looking at the Amphitheatre and other closed businesses awaiting inspection, including Prana, Tequila’s, Nicahabana Cigars and Blue Devil Tattoos.

Each business must have a certified electrician check to make sure it’s safe for TECO to restore the power in their respective buildings, Penny said.

Eric Fleming, owner of the adjacent Ybor City Jazz Club, was on the second floor checking his club’s liquor inventory Wednesday night when smoke began to billow around him. The acrid smoke choked him as he made his way down the stairs.

“I almost didn’t make it out because I almost collapsed at the bottom. Luckily, a fireman was coming through my door and helped me out,” he recalled Thursday. “The firefighters did a hell of a job.”

Santoro, who did not return messages Thursday, echoed that sentiment in a Facebook post, offering “unbelievable respect for the Tampa Fire department that came out and managed the situation. True heroes.”

 

 

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