It took mere minutes on Wednesday to destroy what had taken the owners of an antiques mall years to amass.
The mall, Knot on Main Street, was destroyed by a fire that sent up a column of black smoke visible for miles and drew more than two dozen firefighting units.
"It's a total loss," said Dunedin Deputy Fire Marshal Kelly Intzes.
The fire started around 3:45 p.m. at the business, located at 2424-2428 Bayshore Blvd.
No one was injured, though the business owner, who was not identified by fire officials, was evaluated at the scene after he tried unsuccessfully to fight the blaze. The man alerted his neighbors to the fire, officials said. County property records list Robert and Barbara O'Connell of Dunedin as owners of the business located at the 2424 address.
The fire tied up traffic along heavily traveled Bayshore, which is also Alt. U.S. 19. The road was closed in both directions from Curlew Road to Michigan Avenue, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.
Firefighters from Dunedin, Clearwater, Palm Harbor, Oldsmar and East Lake were able to stop the blaze from spreading to three adjacent businesses — a bait and tackle shop, a pet grooming business and a collectibles shop.
The cause of the fire, which started in the mall's northwest corner, had not been determined Wednesday evening. Intzes said a storage unit at the rear of the facility was not affected.
Firefighters perched on the extended ladders of several ladder trucks to fight the fire from above. Intzes said several rooftop air-conditioning units, along with part of the roof, collapsed into the building.
"Right now there's semi-daylight in there," she said.
The 10,400-square-foot antiques mall, which neighbors said used to be a furniture showroom, rents spaces to vendors who sell antiques and collectibles.
Customer Brent Knott of Dunedin said he pulled into the lot just as several workers opened the door to let smoke out.
At that point, "it was just a little bit of smoke and was no big deal," Knott said, so he helped a neighboring store owner move her outdoor displays.
Within 10 minutes, he said, the building was engulfed.
"It's a shame," said Knott, 60. "Some beautiful stuff."
The store's workers and owners declined to comment.
"It's not a good time," said a woman who identified herself as the owner.
Anna Sweetnam, landlord of the three adjacent businesses, said she felt bad for everyone involved.
"What disturbs me most is with the bad economy," she said, "there's a lot of entrepreneurs in there and this can't help."
Keyonna Summers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4153.