PORT ST. JOHN, Fla. - Officials said on Tuesday that arson was the cause of a fire that destroyed a landmark flea market in Brevard County.
Dozens of firefighters worked to extinguish the three-alarm fire, which broke out around 2:30 a.m., at the Space Coast Flea Market off U.S. 1 near the Frontenac community.
Witnesses say flames shot nearly 25 feet into the air and engulfed the old wood building. Firefighters said the facility is a "complete loss."
The state fire marshal told Local 6 that the cause of the fire was arson. A business owner at the flea market said a man tried to break in overnight, but it's not known if he set the blaze.
Deputies released surveillance video from a burglary at a neighboring business, Skeeter Lagoon Family Grill that occurred less than an hour before the fire ignited at the nearby flea market.20518104
In the video, you can see a white man, wearing white in color shorts and a light colored shirt walking into the fenced in area and into the patio portion.
"He reached up and grabbed the camera lens, and threw it down, and scaled the fence and left," said restaurant owner Cathy Grant. "Luckily nobody got hurt, and our restaurant is still open for business."
No one was hurt in the fire.
Residents say they'll miss what was a landmark for the community. The flea market housed antiques, served as a farmer's market and hosted what were essentially community garage sales.
"People that live around this area, this is one of the places that they're able to go and make a living, some people literally live out of these businesses and they're no longer there any more," said Jeremy Painter, who witnessed the fire.
Lt. Slayman said one of the reasons the fire spread so quickly was because of the flammability of the building's contents. Many flea markets are full of trinkets made of plastic and cotton, which are quick to burn in a fire, he said.
"if anyone has any information at all, regardless of how small or miniscule they think it may be, please give us a call," said State Fire Marshal Detective Amelia Hitchcock.
It's not the first time, there was fire at the flea market. About 9 years ago a fire destroyed a portion of the building.
The Flea Market front parking lot will be open for business on Wednesday, officials said.
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