Fire Destroys Closed Flea Market

Published: Aug 14, 2003

THONOTOSASSA - An old flea market burned to the ground Wednesday afternoon after a man using a blow torch to clear out scrap metal accidentally set it on fire.
The building at 11802 U.S. 301 N., just north of Harney Road, caught fire shortly after noon, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Capt. Tom McCahan said. High winds fueled the flames, which quickly spread through the wooden structure. About 50 firefighters battled the blaze for about 30 minutes before bringing it under control.

The owner, Joseph Asbel of Zephyrhills, said a flea market used to operate there but closed more than a year ago. He said he bought the building about three months ago and paid a neighbor to hire someone to clear it out.

Asbel said the building was not insured and he's not sure what he will do with it now.

``The important thing is that no one was hurt,'' Asbel said.

Fifteen fire engines responded to the blaze, but the building was engulfed in flames when they arrived. McCahan estimated the damages at $50,000.

Jill King Greenwood