Report: Fine Air Flight 101
By: William Bartomeu
On August 7, 1997, at 12:35pm EST, a DC-8 cargo
jet crashed in our store (see photo) in
Miami, ten seconds after takeoff from the Miami International Airport. We
were located just on the parth of the runway, across 72nd Avenue. We were
the most affected by this crash as the plane hit our front door, the only
entry/exit. Fortunately we and two customers inside the store at the moment
of the crash, managed to escape alive, however the crew of the airplane (4)
and one person in a car in the parking lot, died in the accident. The two
injured persons that were reported on the news were the wife of one of our
customers, and Mrs. Maria Bartomeu, my wife (see
photo). The rest of us suffered some cuts and contusions, and none
| "X" marks the front door of our
Our door was blocked by a pile of cars and the
wreckage of the plane, surrounded in flames and dense smoke, but we managed
to escape alive by climbing over the wreckage and into the street to the
south, where there was less fire (see
photo). This is the worst nightmare anyone can live through, as we
all thought that we were trapped inside, or would be killed by one of several
explosions that occured from the 20,000 pounds of fuel loaded on the airplane.
It will take a long time for us to forget; we were born again.
It is a miracle that there were no more casualties
on the ground. As you can see in the photos, the plane crossed one of the
busiest avenues in Miami, 72nd (see photo).
This is one of the most important arteries to the airport.
Five minutes before the crash, we received a shipment
which was left just inside the front door of the store. My wife Maria was
opening the boxes to review the content, so she was less than three feet
away from the door. She saw the plane coming toward us in a straight path
at incredible speed. It felt like an earthquake. The plane crossed the avenue
and went directly toward our cars, destroying, as far as I know, 10 or 11
cars parked in front of the store. Unfortunately, one of those cars was occupied
by a man who was bringing lunch to his wife, who worked in another store
in the same complex. He was the only known victim on the ground.
Due to the strike of UPS, which is located only
about 200 yards from our complex, there were several police units in that
sector, and they arrived on the scene in a matter of seconds. It was, however,
a complete scene of chaos as the images were horrendous, and of course in
the beginning, noone knew if it was a passenger or cargo plane. The first
department arrived just a few minutes after the crash, and within about 4
minutes started to spray foam all over. The flames did not die for several
|An amateur photographer captured Fine Air Flight 101 just before crashing into Bartomeu's model railroad store.
To give an idea of the intense heat produced by
the flames, when my car was removed from the parking lot, a big ball of aluminum
was found on the bottom of the car in the floor. It was the motor that had
melted. The car had no motor at all, according to the people who took it
out of there. I'm still trying to figure out where my car is, and the cars
that belong to my customers. The heat was so intense that the security video
camera of the business next to me, which was 50 feet away from our door,
completely melted. The eletrical cables in the walls of our store were melted
and had to be changed a distance of more than 150 yards.
As a final result of the crash, the damage has
been extremely severe for us. We had to close to business for more than one
week, and we have been forced to move from our old store to a new location.
All of our displays were either burned or damaged by water and an incredible
oily black smoke film covering all the units and boxes. Only the units boxed
in our warehouse appeared to be in good condition, but and even with some
boxes just lightly covered by this film of dust, each unit had to be individually
inspected and tested.
[Editor's Note: For more information on the events surrounding the crash of Fine Air Flight 101, please view the accident record in the AirDisaster.Com Accident Database.]