VERO BEACH, Fla. — A pair of Vero Beach businesses were destroyed late Tuesday night when a raging fire broke out.
Authorities responded to the 800 block of 21st Street around 9:15 p.m. and found Vero Beach Laundry and Kidz Closet engulfed in flames.
It took several hours for Indian River County Fire Rescue to extinguish the blaze. Firefighters were at the scene Wednesday watching for hot spots.
The Vero Beach Police Department said both businesses are a complete loss. However, there were no reports of any injuries.
Images from the scene Wednesday showed the businesses torn apart and charred, with the roof and many structural supports gone.
The State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the cause of the fire.
"We were watching 'Chicago Fire' and we heard sirens we thought were on television. And it turned out, they were in our neighborhood," said Barb Christopher.
Christopher witnessed the two-alarm fire. The building housed a laundry facility and a children's consignment store.
"Conditions were deteriorating on the roof so command ordered them off the roof and out of the building," said Asst. Chief Sean Gibbons of Indian River County Fire Rescue.
Firefighters had to contend, not just with the fire, but the surrounding neighborhood.
"Made sure people were evacuated because I had a vehicle on fire in the alleyway as well," Gibbons said.
"Just devastated," said Jennifer Rinella. who's good friends with the owner of Kidz Closet, Susan Jursik.
Rinella said for 15 years, the consignment shop has been here, providing a service, and more importantly, funding for Kidz Closet Charities.
After 75 days, anything that wasn’t sold here was redistributed throughout the community.
"In each and every school, there is a closet that has clothing, educational materials," Rinella said. "And as kids need it, that’s where they find it."
"This original structure has been in the community at least 50 years. A lot of different businesses, a lot of history there," Gibbons said.
As the State Fire Marshal’s Office began its work, residents like Christopher are sad to see the loss of some longtime businesses.
"I’ve been here 25 years and I used to do my laundry in there when it was a regular laundromat," Christopher said.
If you want to help Kidz Closet Charities, click here.