Man's bottle rocket sets his own building on fire

Video shows massive flames on Jacksonville's Southside

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An man's errant bottle rocket started a fire in his own unused Lakewood building Tuesday, causing a fire that burned the building nearly to the ground.

The man who owns the property said he was shooting off bottle rockets when one went through the window.

The fire started about 9:30 p.m. on Morton Street, near the intersection of St. Augustine Road and University Boulevard.

The property owner says he was shooting off bottle rockets, like this one that I found on the lot today. It goes to show that something very small can cause really big damage.

Video showed the flames shot high into the air, burning for hours as firefighters doused the building with water.

Wednesday, the sunlight shows the damage.

"This was my old office," said Robert Grenadier, the property owner, who admitted that the was the reason for the fire. "The bottle rocket went in right through here, you can still see it smoking."

Like so many others he was celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks when one of the bottle rockets went through the window.

"We started running down the street, got on the phone with the fire department," said Jessie Clifton, who called 911 after seeing the flames he said were 50 feet high. She took 

In her cell phone video, you can hear popping, possibly from other fireworks. She was worried about the gas station just yards away.

"We were standing across the street from the gas station and I knew that if it was going to come any further this way then we all needed to probably go home or the gas station was going to blow up," Clifton said.

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith says thankfully it didn’t spread, or Grenadier could have been in big trouble.

"If it was someone else's property I guess he could be charged with damage property," Smith said. "He couldn't be charged with arson because it's not intentional, it's an accidental incident.. so this being his own property, more than likely he won't be charged."

Grenadier said that he's learned a lesson: that fireworks should be left up to the professionals. He also said that it's probably the last bottle rocket he will set off.

Grenadier did not have insurance, but he’s okay with that. He said the building needed to go, and the fire made it a little easier to get rid of. He plans on getting rid of all the debris, and building a warehouse in its place.

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