BRADENTON, Fla. - Heavy smoke and lots of flames destroyed hundreds of tires at Callaghan Tires on 12 Street Court East in Bradenton. Workers from the tire warehouse tell us the fire most likely started on land next door to their business, destroying a bunch of vehicles and a small building.
"It was a loud explosion, it sounded like a car blowing up," said Richard Paree, a Shipping and Receiving Manager for Callaghan Tires. "I know they have cars inside that building, they do mechanical work there and stuff."
For workers at Hughes Plumbing Supply this was a frightening ordeal for them. They're building sits right across the street from Callaghan Tires.
"We just heard a big boom noise go off, we looked over and we didn't see much and went back to work, kind of looked back out and all of a sudden there's black smoke everywhere," said Chris Schuetz, an employee with Hughes Plumbing Supply.
"We were shocked at first about something like this happening right next to us," said Christian Roman, a Hughes Plumbing Supply driver.
Fire officials say the fire started around noon, forcing the evacuation of nearby homes, businesses and a preschool. A warehouse worker and two firefighters suffered minor injuries. More than a hundred firefighters from Manatee and Sarasota County battled this five-alarm fire for hours. There were also many other county agencies on hand to assist.
"They all responded very quickly, I think the first initial fire engine was on scene within minutes," said Jacob Saur, a Public Safety & 911 Chief for Manatee County.
In addition to having to fight this blaze in extreme heat and windy conditions, firefighters were also dealing with some environmental concerns.
"Because of the runoff of the water, with the oils and other chemicals that those tires give off, we got to capture so it doesn't start polluting the stormwater system," said Brian Gorski, a Fire Chief for Southern Manatee County.
Investigators are still trying to figure out how this fire started.