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New Miami Heat Home Catches Fire

November 14, 1998

MIAMI (AP) _ A new downtown arena under construction for the NBA’s Miami Heat caught fire Friday, sending clouds of thick, black smoke billowing across the city’s waterfront skyline.

Flames could be seen shooting from wooden construction material on part of the uppermost section of the partly-completed $165 million American Airlines Arena.

At least ten fire trucks and crews _ totaling 30-35 firefighters _ rushed to the scene by Biscayne Bay, across Biscayne Boulevard from downtown skyscrapers.

Fire officials did not immediately know what caused the fire but said it could have been caused by a welder, said Miami Police Lt. David Payne. No injuries reported.

``They had a welder working up there around 3 o’clock. That may have sparked something,″ Payne said as fire fighters struggled to get water up to the burning planks at least seven or eight stories high.

The fire was put out just before 9 p.m., about four hours after it started.

Damage was limited to scaffolding on top of the arena. The main structure was not harmed, said Jay Cross, the Heat president of business operations.

``We do not anticipate it will delay the opening of the arena,″ he said.

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