PLANT CITY — Justyn Duke always loved playing paintball, so opening a paintball business in Plant City just seemed natural.
His grandparents loaned him the money, and he rented a shop that had a nearby field that was perfect for paintball games.
But, after being open for about nine months, he suffered a major setback. Last week, the Battle Zone Paintball building caught fire and burned to the ground.
Duke said a trash fire, started by his landlord, got out of hand. It spread to the grass and then the building, he said.
"It was an accident," he said, adding that his landlord is apologetic.
But it's upsetting, he said, because it had been tough starting his business. The first six months, he was barely breaking even. Then, in the past three months, he started making a small profit.
He guesses about $7,000 in rental equipment was lost in the fire, in addition to his father's 2002 Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Still, he doesn't plan to close shop.
"We're not giving up by any means," he said.
The field behind his shop is still open, and he welcomes anyone interested in playing paintball.
Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 661-2443.