Historic Tampa cigar factory burns leaving unanswered questions

The old cigar factory in Tampa was destroyed by fire.

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA)- The Guerrieri cigar factory stood in Palmetto Beach south of Ybor City since 1899. Now it’s reduced to a pile of rubble, following a massive fire over the weekend.
Al Otero lived down the street from the historic structure.Today, he was looking for a brick from the old building. Otero said, “It hurt me to see it burn, because I respect history and this is what part of Tampa is.”

The three story building had been vacant for years. Otero added, “it was a crying shame that nothing was done with such a beautiful structure, especially since this is the historic district of Tampa.”  Eric Newman knows all about the Guerrieri factory’s history. His family’s cigar business, used to work with the Guerrieri family. Newman said, “They made cigars for us, we used to sell around 10-15 million cigars a year, they would make for us in their factory.”

While there were once dozens of cigar factory’s in Tampa, now Newman’s is the only still one producing cigars. Newman added, “A lot of the empty cigar factories are around, They are here to tell a story, now we have one less one around to tell the story and that makes all of us sad.”

Like many of the former cigar factory’s, the Guerrieri plant is one could have been turned into loft apartments or office space, but now that won’t happen. Wes Miller with the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce said. “that is something that Ybor City really needs is residential, and when something like that goes away, it potentially takes away additional residences for Ybor City.” Investigators say it may be awhile before they are able to pinpoint the cause of the fire.

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