Recycling company purchases destroyed cars from massive fire

Posted at 6:58 PM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 18:58:22-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Thousands of rental cars burst into flames at an RSW airport parking lot last month. But, now a local company is using those scorched cars to help its employees make ends meet.

When bright orange flames and dark smoke filled the sky at RSW April 3rd, people couldn’t help but stop and watch.

“I just wanted to see what was really going on,” said one man who couldn’t resist.

That was the same day Governor Ron DeSantis’s safer-at-home order went into effect.

The fire consumed more than 3,000 cars from Hertz, Enterprise, Avis and Budget.

Garden Street Iron and Metal purchased 2,551 rental cars destroyed in the fire from Avis, Budget and Enterprise. Garden St.’s President Robert Weber took a quick break from loading cars at RSW Wednesday to talk to Fox 4.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before, and hopefully we’ll never see it again. That was a lot of damage,” he said.

He said the company’s intake has been down by 60 to 70 percent since the pandemic started. But, thanks to the recent purchase, he’ll be able to keep all of his employees working full-time. They’ll earn some revenue once they sell the recycled parts to local steel and aluminum mills.

“[It’s good for our business here locally, to help support us and keep our employees working,” he said.

They’re also helping RSW clean up the big mess the fire left.

“We’re working with the environmental people and stuff like that. They’ll come in behind us and test all the soils and stuff,” he said.

The Florida Fire Marshal is still investigating what caused this fire. Weber mentioned at least 100 cars are still fenced off at the airport parking lot.

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