Business suffering one year after Viesel fire

Posted at 7:36 PM, Apr 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-13 04:18:54-04

Who could forget it - that massive fire that broke out at the Viesel biodiesel plant in Stuart one year ago this month?

The flames left left behind a mess - a mess that some businesses say they are still trying to recover from.

For Mike Sternberg, owner of Wildfire Marine, the explosion and fire last April are well documented in his photographs.

While it was more than a year ago, the impact of the Viesel fire is still having an effect on his business, with boats lined up waiting to be worked on.

“Everything I had in the shop came to a complete standstill for over two months,” Sternberg says. “And we’ve been trying to catch up ever since.”

On April first of last year, several tanks at the biodiesel plant caught fire.

It took two days to get it under control.

The total cost of cleanup was $1.3 million.

The county says it’s been compensated by its insurance company, but not by Viesel.

“In January of this year, we did receive an insurance check in the amount of $1 million,” says Gabriella Ferraro, a Martin County spokesperson.

Since the incident, the county putting new regulations in place to limit similar facilities in the future.

“They’re taking this year and a half long period to scrutinize, and carefully approach these facilities,” Ferraro says.

As far as the present goes  - the tanks are gone, a for sale sign sits out front, but the county says Viesel is still operating in limited capacity.

Sternberg, now working long days to make up for lost time and money, says he and other business owners there hope Viesel doesn't stick around for too much longer.

“If they need help moving, I think they can find about 50 people in this park that’ll be more than happy to pitch in the day they want to leave.”

The state fire marshal did rule that the cause of the fire was undetermined.

We did reach out to a Viesel representative to ask about the company's future plans, but we have yet to hear back from them.