PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. — Pat Martin, owner of Starboard Marine in Panama City Beach, was cleaning paint rollers in his store on Saturday when the day took a turn for the worst.
“Something sparked, or something went off and not even really exactly sure how it happened but all the sudden the bucket was on fire,” he said. “It caught the barrel on fire and then the whole room, and then ten minutes it was just totally engulfed.”
According to the fire department investigators, Martin had been cleaning the paint rollers with a wire brush when the brush sparked, and that spark landed in acetone. This started the fire, which quickly progressed into a large blaze; Martin left the building and called 9-1-1.
“Upon arrival which was a minute and forty five seconds after it dispatched, we had a fully engulfed structure,” said Gabriel Moschella, a captain with Bay County Fire Rescue.
The fire required four engines, two ladder trucks, help from neighboring departments and hours of fighting to get it under control. While the smoke could be seen from miles away, Martin watched his livelihood burn from across the street.
“He was in shock,” said Moschella. “This was somebody’s worst day. He has no business left.”
While no one was injured, Martin says he’s lost everything; as if it couldn’t get worse, the store had previously been dropped from insurance because it was an older, wooden building.
“This is about like starting from ground zero again,” said Martin.
Now, he’s looking for help in any way he can find it.
“I’ll accept anybody’s help,” he said. “I don’t ask for handouts or anything but you know this was my livelihood. This was all I had.”
Martin’s family and friends have set up a GoFundMe campaign to help him recover. To contribute to the campaign, click here.