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Early Morning Fire Demolishes Flagler Beach’s Iconic Seaside Shoppe; Bayer Office Saved

| August 15, 2013

The dawn fire at the Seaside Shoppe was captured by Sherry Baker. (© Sherry Baker for FlaglerLive)

The dawn fire at the Seaside Shoppe was captured by Sherry Baker. (© Sherry Baker for FlaglerLive)

Last Updated: 11:06 a.m.

Flagler Beach’s iconic Seaside Shoppe, for two decades a mainstay of the city’s commercial life and tourist stop, was demolished by an early morning fire the owner detected at 4 a.m. when she smelled smoke. The owner of the garden-rimmed gift shop, Sally Pillitleri, and her husband, lived in the apartment attached to the business.

Sally Pillitleri, left, the owner of the demolished building and business, speaking with City Commissioner Joy McGrew at the scene Thursday morning. (© FlaglerLive)

Sally Pillitleri, left, the owner of the deomlished building and business, speaking with City Commissioner Joy McGrew at the scene Thursday morning. (© FlaglerLive)

Firefighters from every agency in the county fought the fire and battled its advance against other nearby buildings, which have virtually no buffer with the Seaside structure. Among them was Dennis Bayer’s multi-level office building, which includes Bayer’s law offices and several other businesses, and the Mayo condominiums’ half-dozen units. Firefighters staved off flames and damage to all nearby buildings, however.

“Dennis Bayer’s building, we’ve been able to protect it by putting water on it,” Don Petito, Flagler County’s fire chief, said.

No one was injured in the blaze.

“It was good to see the county and the city cooperating and putting out the fire,” Bayer said later in the morning. “We’re happy it wasn’t any worse than it was. I feel sorry for Sally. She’s a good neighbor.”

Petito said at the scene that the building was a total loss. “The roof is caved in, center walls are already caved in,” he said.

The fire as it burned before sunrise. Click on the image for larger view.

The fire as it burned before sunrise. Click on the image for larger view.

Pillitleri stood nearby, speaking with several people lending her their support and sympathies, including Flagler Beach City Manager Bruce Campbell, who is in effect the city fire department’s administrative chief at the moment, and Joy McGrew, a city commissioner.

“I’ve owned the building for 17 years, and I’ve been in business for 14 years,” Pillitleri said. “My husband went to work. I go right back to sleep, I need a lot of sleep, so I’m a sleeper, and then, there’s a crack underneath the door about this size, and I started to smell something. It woke me up, and I opened the door, then I saw smoke. No fire, just smoke, lots of smoke, and I thought, boy, I’ve got to get out of here. And then even when I called 911 I ran outside and called 911 they said, is there any fire? And I said no, there’s quite a bit of smoke. Then they come over. It looked like it stayed inside for a long time.”

The building is in two segments, one measuring about 2,000 square feet, the other about 1,000. Campbell estimated the building dates back to the 1960s. Property Appraiser records are not precise on that score. The building’s value was last assessed at $182,436.


“This is one of our older businesses in town,” Campbell said. “I’s been a mainstay of our merchant offerings here in the city for some time. She sold a lot of Flagler Beach memorabilia, t-shirts, hats, collector’s items, trinkets, things like that. It’ll be missed. It was a neat place because she had that little courtyard there, and then you could go in, she had it decorated very nicely. Sally has been a long-time merchant here in the city, very involved. everybody knows Sally Pillitleri. We feel bad for her but we’re very, very pleased that nothing happened physically.”

Campbell was referring to the units of the Mayo condominiums, which could have been in harm’s way.

“Everybody did a nice job, and we’re thankful for the county and Bunnell, Palm Coast, our guys, everybody pitched in and did what they had to do,” Campbell said.

Flagler Beach’s unit, with Stephen Cox initially in command, was first on scene, followed by units from the rest of the county. Command was turned over to Flagler County Fire Rescue’s Capt. Jamie Burnsed. Flafgler Beach and Bunnell each had an engine at the scene, according to Petito, the county had three engines, a ladder truck and two rescue units, Palm Coast sent an engine and a ladder truck. Curiously, County Administrator Craig Coffey was also at the scene for a time. (He lives nearby.)

Petito said firefighters could not get into the ceiling as they normally would, to fight the fire, because the ceiling was sealed shut with plywood. That enabled the fire to keep burning, with flames still leaping from the roof past 8 a.m. By 9 a.m., the building was mostly a blackened shell of itself, smoking some but no longer burning. The state fire marshal was at the scene. But there still was no determination about the cause of the fire.

The fire at its height. Click on the image for larger view. (© Sherry Baker for FlaglerLive)

The fire at its height. Click on the image for larger view. (© Sherry Baker for FlaglerLive)


The 3,000 square foot building, for two decades a presence on Flagler Beach's South 6th Street and South Central, was termed a total loss. Click on the image for larger view. (c FlaglerLive)

The 3,000 square foot building, for two decades a presence on Flagler Beach’s South 6th Street and South Central, was termed a total loss. Click on the image for larger view. (c FlaglerLive)


The fire was still burning some four hours after it had started. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

The fire was still burning some four hours after it had started. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)


Looking southeast from South-Central. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Looking southeast from South-Central. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)


Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)


The business was flanked by a handsome courtyard and fountain. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

The business was flanked by a handsome courtyard and fountain. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)


Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)


Every fire department in the county responded. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Every fire department in the county responded. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)


Looking northeast. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Looking northeast. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)


Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)


Flagler County Fire Chief Don petito and Flagler Beach City Manager Bruce Campbell at the scene. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Flagler County Fire Chief Don petito and Flagler Beach City Manager Bruce Campbell at the scene. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)


Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)


Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

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19 Responses for “Early Morning Fire Demolishes Flagler Beach’s Iconic Seaside Shoppe; Bayer Office Saved”

  1. NortonSmitty says:

    This is a shame and a loss for what makes Mayberry by the Sea so special. It was a quirky place that you wouldn’t find just anywhere. And the owners are beautiful people. I hope they are looking forward to their next adventure.

  2. mellissa says:

    I’m so sad to see this building go. Also devastated for Sally and her husband. I hope and pray we can get it cleaned up and rebuilt somehow. So happy she woke up and was able to get out ok. Lots of prayers to you guys.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Sorry for their loss. Happy nobody was hurt and no other buildings were damaged. Thank God for mutual aide!

  4. Brenda Archambault says:

    AWESOME JOB FLAGLER BEACH AND FLAGLER COUNTY FIREFIGHTERS!!

  5. positive says:

    Good work with our firefighters and other agencies. Sad loss for local business.

  6. Willy says:

    The Flagler Beach guys that were first on scene did the best they could with only TWO people.(speculation becasue they only staff two career guys a shift) Unfortunatly understaffing your department with two men a shift means you must wait for the next truck before starting to attack the fire from the inside. It’s called 2 in 2 out rule. For every two Firefighters inside you must have a minimum of two outside waiting to assist in case of a downed Firefighter.

    The best chances you have to stop a Fire is during the beginning phases when visibility is better and heat is lower. By NFPA (national Fire Protection Agency) if you have less than the required number of Firefighters, they can only attack from the outside.

    By the time the next available truck arrives from the Airport or the Hammock bringing the total Fire staffing onscene to the level for interior operations, the building is in most cases to far advanced in fire to save.

    This same situation has happend before In Flagler Beach. The City’s Firefighters are more than capable and willing there just isn’t enough of them.

    Either sub the Fire Department out to the County using a 10 year contract system allowing the City to opt out every ten years if needed, or staff it properly with a defined command staff and structure

    • NortonSmitty says:

      Boy, if didn’t know better, I’d think you guys who never miss the opportunity to tell us how absolutely wonderful it would be to turn over the Fire Department to the County had some kind of agenda or something. Weird.

  7. Jennifer Altfield says:

    I just got the news up here in NJ. So very sorry for Sally and Bill. What a great shop that was lost for your community. Thank you to the fire fighters who did the best they could under the circumstances. Thank God all are safe.

  8. In God We Trust says:

    Thank you again to the Flagler Beach and Flagler County Firefighters………………..God bless you all!

  9. Anonymous says:

    So sorry for your loss, but so grateful everyone is safe. From Jane and Terry (where Bill has coffee every morning)

  10. leather head says:

    I’m with you about the staffing issue for flagler beach, but what you failed to mention is the flagler county has a transport rescue that is housed at station 11 with 2 guys so there’s your two out. Can’t fight fire from the outside!! If your that concerned about what type of staffing flagler beach has then stop in and talk to the guys and become a volunteer. I’m sure they would gladly take any and all people willing to give there time. Either way good job guys keep you helmet low and boots up high.

  11. Willy says:

    Norton,

    No agenda Here.. It’s fact.. I work for a large agency in the tri-county area. I know first hand the effects an understaffed Fire Service have on emergency scenes.

    Im also fimilar with Flagler Beach’s Fire department, as I volunteered there until 2003..

    Either fund and staff it properly, or allow the County to do it.

  12. JL says:

    I think all 3 fire departments (FB, FC, and PC) coming together to help is great. However, it does show that Flagler Beach needs more help than 2 FT firefighters. Either staff the department or join with Flagler County. I’m glad my home is in Palm Coast. I think if I lived in FB, that’s what I would want. So glad no one was hurt, but sorry that was a total loss. Hope they rebuild.

    • ThreeEighty says:

      During every structure fire multiple agency’s respond. It’s call mutual aid and the closest units go. Look at Ormond beach. 4 fire stations. But in any structure fire you’ll see holly hill, county maybe even daytona there. Or holly hill. They have one station and are close to the busiest in Volusia county. It doesn’t mean they can’t handle it, you need 3 engines an a ladder minimum. Local fire, police and utility dept. are what make a city. Don’t like it don’t live there, and if you already don’t live there…. Then don’t worry about it

  13. Resident says:

    Willy Flagler Beach arrived on that fire with 3 Certified FF’s on their engine. They DID go inside before the next truck from the county arrived. They did not wait…

    -EXCLUSIONS to a 2 out are victims inside OR the fire is in the incipient phase with a clear exit out. And it’s not two out for every two in.. Wow! KNOW YOUR 2 out and RIT REQUIREMENTS!!

    -All fire depts are understaffed as NFPA reccomends 4 FFs to be staffed at all times. Even the County receives help from Flagler Beach and Palm Coast on fires, it’s called mutual aid.

    Remember the County proposed that they would keep a 2 man engine at FB if they took over. They have their own staffing issues just look at west side with station 31,51,& 71 or look at ladder 41 only having 1 FF on it.
    Maybe Palm Coast should just take over everyone!

  14. Flagler Citizen says:

    Willy-A lot has happened with the FBFD in the 10 years since you volunteered. Under a policy instituted not too long ago, volunteers (the majority of whom are state certified fire fighters and EMT’s) spend the same 24 hour shifts as the “career” guys do so you usually have a minimum of 3 if not 4 state certified firefighters responding to a structure fire call from Station 11 alone. With the addition of the 2 County guys who staff Rescue 11 at the Station, you would now have 5-6 firefighters responding. Stop by in the near future and someone would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

  15. MC18FR says:

    E11 was fortunate to have a crew of 4 that morning, and did a great job given an attic fire in an old building that was sealed tight. All 4 departments did a heck of job keeping it to that one building and saved the neighboring buildings from being involved.

    People do forget that many volunteers give a lot of their own time to help staff Flagler Beach so they can perform at a high level. And equal time given to the paid guys who have stepped it up to help lead when needed.

  16. Willy says:

    As stated in my previous comment, my assumption is speculation because the station is garunteed 2 paid firefighters. Volunteers may or may not be there at any given time. That station is NOT staffed 24/7 with 4 Firefighters.

    Volunteers also may be in a support function too. Meaning they staff the truck, sure. But cannot take part in active firefighting. In that capacity they may only be utilized for medical calls, and support functions at fires.

    Firefighters on scene did a great job working together, I agree.

  17. Local says:

    Great job on the structure fire on last Monday. Good work local firefighters!

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