AP NEWS

Officials: Austin warehouse fire destroys up to 100 pedicabs

February 20, 2019
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Nathan Lipson, right, owner of Metrocycle Pedicabs, and shop mechanic Alex Ferrier look at the damage after a fire broke out at their East Austin warehouse, Tuesday February 19, 2019. The Austin Fire Department reports that two companies, Metrocycle Pedicabs and Pedicab Adventures, lost up to 100 pedicabs in the warehouse fire early Tuesday. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A fire at an Austin warehouse wiped out one-fifth of the city’s pedicabs just weeks before the annual South by Southwest festival, one of the busiest times for bicycle rickshaw operators, city officials said.

Two companies, Metrocycle Pedicabs and Pedicab Adventures, lost up to 100 pedicabs in the fire early Tuesday, according to the Austin Fire Department. Fire officials said an electrical short circuit started the blaze that ripped through the warehouse and caused about $400,000 in damages.

No one was reported injured and the department ruled the fire as accidental, according to the Austin American-Statesman .

The companies declined to comment on the fire or the impact it could have on business leading up to the weeklong music, movie and tech festival that starts March 8.

Curtis Allen, a pedicab driver, said many independent operators stored their bicycle rickshaws at the warehouse because it’s convenient and affordable.

The Austin Transportation Department plans to help affected operators by keeping their permits and inspecting replacement pedicabs for free.

“We recognize the value pedicabs have to our transportation network and to the culture of our city,” said Jen Samp, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Department. “It’s something that we want to be able to help with as much as we can.”

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Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com