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Video shows sparkler igniting Fla. restaurant fire, patrons fleeing

Hillsborough County firefighters battled a two-alarm fire at the Mamajuana Cafe

By Tony Marrero
Tampa Bay Times

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Video released by Hillsborough County Fire Rescue on Tuesday shows an employee accidentally igniting the Mamajuana Cafe’s tiki hut with a celebratory sparkler earlier this month, causing a raging fire that destroyed the structure.

Firefighters received calls at 10:52 p.m. on April 6 about a fire rapidly growing in the giant tiki hut attached to the restaurant at 9202 Anderson Road in Tampa, according to information previously released by the fire rescue department. Fire crews could see the blaze from the nearby Veterans Expressway.

The first arriving unit was met with a large fire and called in a second fire squad, often referred to by first responders as a “second alarm.” Firefighters battled the blaze using handheld hoses and a ladder pipe to suppress the fire from above.

Crews put out the blaze in 25 minutes, the release said. Occupants were able to evacuate the area and no one was injured.

Surveillance video released Tuesday shows employees lighting celebratory sparklers and carrying them in raised arms to a table occupied by several patrons in the hut. Before walking to the table, one of the employees raises a sparkler above her head, igniting a portion of the hut’s thatched roof.

“Despite their efforts, the employees could not contain the fire due to its rapid growth,” the news release said.

The video, which features angles from various cameras on the property, shows patrons fleeing the restaurant while at least one employee tries to put out the fire with a hose.

The last portion shows embers raining down from the tiki hut’s ceiling as tables and chairs burn. What appears to be a smoking disco ball falls and rolls across the floor.

No one answered the phone at the restaurant on Tuesday. A post on the cafe’s Facebook page says the restaurant was working with TECO and the county’s building department to open this week.

“Thank You Tampa for all the Love & Support,” the post said.

A description on the Facebook page says the restaurant specializes in “combining together the spices of the Dominican Republic old world infused with the modern world.”

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