Blaze obliterates Cocoa Beach gift shop

By Jim Waymer

COCOA BEACH -- Sunny Shelly shrieked as she arrived at the smoldering remains of her gift shop on Tuesday.

Firefighters dragged hoses past charred gift cards depicting scenes of American Indian heritage, scattered along a wet North Orlando Avenue.

No injuries were reported, and no one was inside when the 11:26 a.m. blaze gutted White Eagle Unlimited, 51 N. Orlando Ave.

The gift shop, which sells arts and crafts, was to open at noon, Cocoa Beach Fire Chief Ron Williams said.

Firefighters closed off one city block, from Minutemen Causeway to North 1st Street, for about two hours.

The blaze was out within minutes.

"It was relatively quick to knock down," said Scott Shear, training and EMS coordinator for the city's fire department. "We had heavy smoke and zero visibility."

As they investigated the scene, firefighters offered no theories about the cause.

Justina Stevens, who was working in a household tile shop next door, alerted the fire department.

"It just got all smoky, the whole store was smoky," Stevens said.

Several businesses are within the strip of shops, but firefighters said no one was evacuated.

Bill Grillo of Merritt Island said he has been renting the commercial space to Shelly for about six months.

"No one got hurt, that's the main thing," Grillo said.