TAMPA — An errant attempt to move a disco ball likely sparked the fire that broke out Wednesday night at the Amphitheatre, a popular nightclub and concert venue at 1609 E Seventh Ave.
The blaze filled Ybor City with heavy, black smoke as about 60 firefighters rushed to the scene. When fire units arrived, they saw flames shooting through the roof.
The fire was reported to 911 at 7:47 p.m. Police closed down Seventh Avenue between N 15th Street and N 17th Street and pushed crowds away from the scene. Firefighters were still battling flames around 10 p.m. and at that time had not yet found the source of the fire.
Tampa Fire Rescue officials believe that the fire started while a welder was trying to install a new bracket to relocate a disco ball. But the sparks ignited old fire retardant in the ceiling, the welder told firefighters.
The fire quickly spread. However, there were only three people in the building when the fire started. They all escaped safely, firefighters said, and the building was not open to the public at the time.
The fire also triggered the building's automatic sprinklers, flooding it with water. The venue was scheduled to host a DJ on Saturday evening.
One firefighter was hospitalized because of smoke inhalation, according to Tampa Fire Rescue spokesman Jason Penny. Police told those still in Ybor City to leave the area because of "dangerous" levels of smoke.
The Amphitheatre's Twitter account posted this message about 9 p.m.: "We thank you for your concern - Everyone is safe. We will update you as soon as we can. #AMPFam"
The venue was slated to host Grammy nominated DJ Morgan Page, who tweeted about the fire Thursday morning: "Awful news about @amp_tampa burning down. One of my fav clubs to play. Will have more info tomorrow about this weekend's show"
Club owners could not immediately be reached.