Welder who started Ybor City fire has questionable past

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Welder Robert Shawn Rogers told investigators he accidentally started a fire as he tried to move a bracket to hang a disco ball at Ybor City’s Amphitheatre nightclub.

Our 8 On Your Side investigation found Rogers is quite proud of his work, sharing photos of various Ybor City jobs on his Facebook page. But Ybor business owners say he is known for roaming the area in his unmarked truck, looking for jobs. They say he he works in exchange for vouchers for food and booze.

Yanko Maceda, who owns a cigar business, says he refused to hire Rogers. “I don’t know if he would do all of the necessary things to make sure sparks don’t fly. It looks like it didn’t work out last night,” he said.

READ MORE: Businesses near Ybor nightclub ordered to vacate after fire

8 On Your Side checked out Rogers, and he does not have a license to do some of his biggest Ybor jobs, including balcony work. He also did not pull a permit for the job that started the fire. Welders are not required to have a license for most work, however, if the work is structural in nature, or is on a commercial building, that could change requirements.

State officials regulate contractors and are looking into this incident. Meanwhile, city officials are looking into permitting issues and whether Rogers had the correct licenses.

8 On Your Side also found Rogers has a long arrest sheet, including charges for cocaine possession, leaving the scene of a crash with injury and grand theft.

“I think for everything you have to have a professional, but for things like that, like electrical and stuff, I want somebody who is a little more responsible,” Maceda said.

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