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Bike shop gutted by fire slowly returning to normal

Published June 6, 2022
Official report attributes the fire to charger equipment failure.

CUTLER BAY, Fla. (BRAIN) — It hasn't quite been business as usual for Andante Bike Shop, operating under tents in the back of the building that was destroyed by fire in early April. But owner Mauricio Orozco has tried to keep his cool, both with fans outside and with his attorney dealing with pending litigation against an e-bike battery pack refurbisher.

Orozco said the fire was triggered by that charging e-bike battery left unattended. Nobody was injured.

"This has been a process," Orozco told BRAIN in an email. "Yes, there is an attorney dealing with that."

Orozco said he sent the BagiBike e-bike battery to EBike Marketplace after learning a factory replacement was unavailable. EBike Marketplace has not returned phone messages or emails from BRAIN seeking comment. After receiving the rebuilt battery, Orozco said he put it in the charger on April 9 and closed for the day.

The shop, located south of Miami, was engulfed in flames about 45 minutes later. The fire destroyed the interior before the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department could extinguish it. Orozco said other businesses in the mall suffered smoke damage, and firefighters broke down the door of a neighboring business so they could enter the bike shop.

EBike Marketplace says on its website it replaces, repairs, and rebuilds lithium-ion battery packs.

The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department investigation report listed:

"Cause of Ignition: Failure of equipment or heat source."

"Equipment involved in the ignition: 228-Battery charger, rectifier."

However, e-bike industry consultant Mike Fritz said the Fire Department report is "misleading," adding the cause was likely the charging process and not the charger and that the battery pack likely was at fault. "I think that it was expedient for the investigator to simply state that the charger was at fault. But the charger was just doing its job. ... But please know this is speculation on my part. But it's speculation based on experience."

In the meantime, Orozco is also preparing the move two doors down from his old shop and has raised nearly $14,500 in a GoFundMe campaign to help the bike shop of more than 25 years.

Topics associated with this article: Electric bike

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