PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – “Closed” and “do not enter” signs are posted everywhere at the USA Flea Market off of U.S. 19.
“It’s devastating. I’ve made a living and paid my bills here for 28 years,” said vendor Martin Smith.
People are packing up and moving out, but not willingly.
“I’m pushing 80 years old. I have every penny and dime of wealth invested here,” said Carlton Barfield.
Last week county officials, code enforcement officers and the fire marshal told everyone they had to get out.
“It was abrupt. We had no warning. We couldn’t even open to make any money that weekend,” said Smith.
That’s because the county maintains that absolutely no one should go back in the building.
“The environment was so dangerous, not only to the people who work there, but the public that we could no longer keep it open,” said Pasco County spokesman Doug Tobin.
Vendors still want to know why flea market owners were not given a chance to clean up the property.
“In my estimation as an experienced individual in the world, I believe it could have been repaired rather than push the whole building over,” said Barfield.
County leaders called the building a ticking time bomb and didn’t want to take the chance of anyone getting hurt.
“A boy or girl could of gone up to one of the circuit breakers and it could of actually electrocuted that person. It could of killed the young boy or an adult,” said Tobin.
The flea market and every building on the property will be demolished by September. That’s a reality that hundreds of vendors struggle to accept.
“I tried to sell display cases and left over stuff. It’s just going to have to get bulldozed over,” said Martin.
Vendors are still in the process of getting out of the market. Power will be turned off in July and the demolition will take place sometime by September.
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