Hillsborough firefighters battle warehouse fire

Posted at 4:46 AM, May 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-25 17:53:33-04

A family-owned Hillsborough County business now faces an uncertain future after a fire destroyed a company warehouse.

Crews from Hillsborough County Fire Rescue were working to contain the burn for more than twelve hours at Coastal Wipers, located at 6803 Parke East Blvd.  

Coastal Wipers is a family-owned business operating for more than three decades, manufacturing and distributing wiping cloths, microfiber and sorbent products, according to the company's website. More than 30 employees work inside the facility that burned.

Gloriann Vazquez, a Coastal Wipers employee, pulled up early Wednesday morning to find the entire building had collapsed.

"A lot of us really need this job," she said through tears. "It's gone."

Firefighters arrived around 3:30 a.m. but found it wasn't safe to fight the fire from the inside. The steel was becoming too hot and expanding, making the building unstable.

"We knew a collapse of the roof was imminent and that the walls would soon fall in," said Nicole Revette of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.

Firefighters knew there were no other people inside, as Coastal Wipers does not have a third shift, and quickly got themselves out.

Gary Smiles, one of the owners of Coastal Wipers, told ABC Action News he called every one of his employees and assured them they still have a job.

However, Smiles is still working to determine if he is going to rebuild. For now, he said he may try and rent another building to continue business.

Investigators are still working to determine how the fire started. No injuries have been reported.