At least two C3 Corvettes were among the vehicles damaged in a suspected arson in late December at a well-known classic car auto dealership in Miami, Florida.
The fire, which was set in three places, caused $1 million in damages to Ted Vernon Specialty Autos at 8301 N.W. 7th Ave., but it could have been much worse.
Quick work by the fire department saved the overwhelming majority of the classic cars stored in the warehouse. Only about two dozen of the 350 cars in the building were damaged as firefighters had the blaze under control in about an hour and kept it from spreading to the showroom and the rest of the cars.
“Just the sheer magnitude and the number of the vehicles and zero visibility,” Miami-Dade Fire Department Battalion Chief Ray Jadallah said. “The firefighters did a really good job trying to get this fire under control.”
Robin Vernon, co-owner of the dealership, said the business had received threats in the past.
“I’ve been calling the police department about quite a few threats made to us, and one person threatened to blow up the place,” she said. “We’ve also had a few evictions on other buildings that we own. People get angry when they leave. They don’t understand why they have to leave.”
Vernon said she was upset about the suspected arson. “Anger is part of the hurt we have,” she told CBS4 News, “and we work 18 hours a day and to have something like this happen….”
No suspects have been named in the suspected arson, though investigators spent the day Thursday investigating the scene.
The Vernons have their own cable TV show called “South Beach Classics.” In fact, Ted was out of town filming when the blaze occurred.
Speaking of filming, the business does have security cameras, but they were pointed in the wrong direction to capture anyone setting the blaze.
One of the damaged vehicles was a Rolls Royce belonging to Ted Vernon, and another classic car belonging to an unidentified South Florida celebrity was also damaged.
Robin Vernon said she plans to offer a $25,000 reward for information through the Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers.
If you have information about the fire, call Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS (8477).