Fire-ravaged bike shop slowly returns to normal

CUTLER BAY, Fla. (BRAIN) — Business hasn’t been as usual for Andante Bike Shop, operating out of tents in the back of the building that was destroyed by fire in early April. But owner Mauricio Orozco has been trying to keep his cool, both with the fans outside and with his lawyer handling ongoing litigation against an e-bike battery restorer.

Orozco said the fire was started by this unattended e-bike battery charge. No one was hurt.

“It’s been a process,” Orozco told BRAIN in an email. “Yes, there is a lawyer handling it.”

Orozco said it sent the BagiBike e-bike battery to EBike Marketplace after learning that a factory replacement was not available. EBike Marketplace did not return any phone messages or emails from BRAIN requesting comment. After receiving the rebuilt battery, Orozco said it put it in the charger on April 9 and shut it down for the day.

The store, located south of Miami, was engulfed in flames about 45 minutes later. The fire destroyed the interior before the Miami-Dade Fire Department could extinguish it. Orozco said other businesses in the mall were damaged by smoke, and firefighters kicked down the door of a nearby business to gain entry to the bike shop.

EBike Marketplace states on its website that it replaces, repairs and rebuilds lithium-ion batteries.

The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department investigation report states:

“Cause of ignition: failure of equipment or heat source. »

“Equipment participating in the ignition: 228-Battery charger, rectifier.”

However, the e-bike industry consultant Mike Fritz said the fire department’s report is “misleading”, adding that the cause was likely the charging process and not the charger and that the battery was likely to blame. “I think it was appropriate for the investigator to simply state that the charger was at fault. But the charger was just doing their job. … But please know that this is speculation on my part. But it is speculation based on experience.”

In the meantime, Orozco is also preparing for the move two doors down from its former store and has raised nearly $14,500 in a GoFundMe campaign to help the 25-plus-year-old bike store.