JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man injured Tuesday after an explosion and fire at a muffler shop on Philips Highway is improving, his friends told News4Jax.
Around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, firefighters were called to a fire at the Rainbow Muffler shop after an explosion blew out most of the windows. The fire caused southbound lanes of Philips Highway to be closed for most of rush hour.
Boards covered the windows in the front of the business and its bays Wednesday as an OSHA investigator looked at the damage from the fire. The official ruling from JFRD is that the fire was accidental.
Workers said the employee who was burned Tuesday is doing all right at UF Health in Gainesville.
"I called him, spoke with him. He's alive and well. He's happy," Rainbow Muffler manager Daniel Nixon said. "He has some minor burns, but he's well."
Nixon said the injured employee was one of several who grabbed fire extinguishers inside the building and tried to put the fire out. He said once they realized the fire was spreading too quickly, they had to get everyone out.
"It expanded to the cars and was a chain reaction," Nixon said. "It's a common thing that can happen in the environment."
People driving by called 911, concerned that people were inside.
Caller: Yes, they need a firetruck bad.
Operator: What exactly is on fire?
Caller: It is, I guess it is a garage.
Operator: Is it the garage or is it the car?
Caller: It's a big old garage building on fire.
Operator: OK ma'am, help is on the way.
Nixon said a few cars were damaged in the fire. He said Rainbow Muffler is already helping those car owners with rental cars while they wait to do work on those vehicles.
The rebuilding process has already started with insurance adjusters and construction companies on site, hoping they will be able to get to work soon.
"I will get everybody the help they need, what they need," Nixon said. "I have just got to get operational in a new place. I will get them in and out as fast as possible. I apologize for the inconvenience."
The company's owner said she wanted to thank the community for the support that they have received since Tuesday afternoon.
As soon as information is available about when and where the shop's temporary location will open, we will post the information online.