A Super DC-8 Cargo plane crashed against our Store
As one of our Customer
remarked, it is an irony that in our web pages we gave
instructions on how to arrive to our Store: "If you can
jump from the plane 14 seconds before landing, you will
land in our roof". As you can see, we are very accurate
in our directions. But we never said to come WITH the
The nicest European Model Store in USA was destroyed by
destroyed by Fine Air
A Cargo Jet
DC-8, crashes in our front door trapping us
inside, surrounded by flames and smoke and
no door to escape.
5 People died on the accident, none inside
But we managed to escape alive. Read the
Total loss and forced to leave.
The marks on the ground
marks the path direct impact to us
Just destruction and
melted boxes left.
Several hundred's of
locomotives lost and a couple of thousand's cars.
These beauties were all
The crash in our door
Trapped inside by the
The chaos from neighbors
Me being rescued by
someone. My wife at the lower right corner.
My wife hair and blouse
burned when escaped over the flames
The kind of flames and
smoke we got
Some aerial views of the
path of the airplane.
The real thing that crashed and te fire that made.
This is a good picture
to study. Remember the BMW at the first picture above?. Well, we
owe our life to my BMW. As seen on the picture shown by an
arrow, you can see what was left of the BMW. This car was parked
as seen on the first picture and it was it what stooped the
plane to enter inside the Store by the door. Close to it, a
turbine can be seen.
Thousand's of gallons of
water and foam were used for several hours.
some pictures courtesy of Channel 7 News and The Miami Herald.
August 7th. 1997, at 12.35 P.M. EST, a Cargo Jet DC-8 crashed in
our Store at Miami, 10 seconds after taking
off from the Miami International Airport.
As many of you know, we were located just on the path of the run
way, across 72nd. Avenue, reason why, we were the most affected
for this crash, as the plane just hit our front door, the only
entry/exit to the Store.
Fortunately for us, 2 Customers and us inside the Store at the
moment of the crash, managed to escape alive, however, the crew
of the Airplane (4) and one person inside one car in the parking
lot, died on the accident. The two injured that the news said
happen on the ground, were the wife of one of our Customers (we
must reserve her name) and Mrs. Maria Bartomeu my wife. The rest
of us, only some contusions and cuts all over. None was burned.
Our door was blocked by a pile of cars and the wreckage of the
plane, surrounded in huge flames and dense smoke, but we managed
to escape climbing over the wreckage and hitting the street to
the south, were it was less fire.
This has been the worst nightmare anyone can live as we all
thought that we were death trapped inside or caught in one of
several explosions that occurred from the fuel of the plane, all
over the place (about 20.000 Lb. of fuel) and the gas tanks of
the cars piled in front of us. It will take long time for us to
forget. We were born again.
It is a miracle that there is no more casualties on the ground.
As you can see on the above pictures, the plane crossed one of
the busiest avenues in Miami, the 72nd. avenue, one of the most
important arteries to the Airport.
As for us, our wounds are nothing compared with what could
happen to all of us, when that fire, smoke and explosions were
on our own face and the door won't open.
The causes of the crash have not been determined yet, but rumors
are pointing to the cargo, that was lose and make the plane to
fall, going down and breaking in pieces in the middle of a big
ball of fire.
5 minutes before the crash, we received one shipment and was
left, just at one side of the entry door inside the Store. My
wife Maria, was opening the boxes to review the content, so she
was less than 3 feet away from the door.
She saw the plane coming against us in a straight path, at
incredible speed and shaking the ground like a earthquake,
several explosions, fire everywhere and smoke.
The plane crossed the avenue and went direct to our cars,
destroying, as far as I know, about 10 or 11 cars parked in
front of our Store, with the misfortune, that also one of those
cars, was occupied by a men that was bringing the lunch to his
Wife, a Lady who works near by in other Store on the same
complex. This was the only victim on the ground known.
Due the strike of UPS, that is located only about 200 yards from
our complex, there was several Police units in the sector, that
arrived in mater of seconds to the Scene, however, it was a
complete chaos as the images were horrendous and of course, at
the beginning, nobody new if it was a passenger or cargo plane.
The Fire Department arrived just a few minutes after the crash,
I would say not more than 4 minutes and they started to spray
foam all over, but the flames did not die for several hours.
As to give an idea of the intense heat produced by the flames,
when my car was removed from there, a big ball of aluminum was
found on the bottom of the car in the floor. It was the motor
that melted. The car had no motor at all, according with the
people who took the car out of there. (I'm still trying to
figure it out where is that car and others that belong to us and
The heat was so intense, that the business next to me had a
security video camera 50 feet away from the entry and even that
distance, it was found completely melted.
The electric cables that are inside the walls in our fronts, are
melted and must be changed up to the meter room, a distance of
more than 150 yards.
There is no other Airplane crash that had so many witnesses.
There are hundred's of them, what it makes more incredible that
so many people was on the Street and none was injured or killed
by this plane.
It is incredible that the plane, with more than 100.000 Lb.
between cargo and fuel, plus the weight of the plane, could be
stopped by 3 cars, one Lincoln Mark VIII, one Mercedes Benz
S-500 and one BMW 740 that made a wall against our front door
and prevented the plane or parts of it, to enter inside the
premises, where no escape would be possible and all the
buildings would take fire from one to an other from the inside.
It is incredible that we were able to open the door and push
whatever was there behind, preventing to open the door.
It is incredible that when we were climbing that impressive
mountain of wreckage and fire, no explosion occurred, but after
a while, when we were away from the fuselage.
It is incredible that tons of debris that came inside the Stores
affected, did not hit anyone inside. I found a piece of metal,
sharp as a knife, 20 inches long, just in front of my desk. By
the way, even when some glass broke, we have metal bars inside
the Store that are fixed to the structure except on the door,
where the security template glass was not broken and I cut not
break it to escape.
For some unknown reason, that we never thought before, there is
no back door or any other escape from the building. According
with the Fire Department, it must be one by Law, but we have our
Certificate of Occupancy and we had the inspection done by the
Zone and Building Department who gave us the Certificate.
The Landlord, is not giving us any explanation on this matter
but we are investigating this absence of escape door. It is our
main concern, the security of our Customers, but we never
thought, that something like this cut happen.
As a final result of the crash, the damages have been extremely
severe for us. We had to be closed for business more than one
week now and we will be forced to move from our Store/warehouse
to a new location.
All our displays are either burned or damaged by water and an
incredible oily black smoke film covering all the units and
Only those units boxed in our warehouse, seems to be in good
condition, even when some boxes are covered by this film of
dust, however, each unit must be inspected and tested, what
represents a very hard job that will take time to finish.
As today date, we have lost the 100% of our Stock in Vollmer,
Faller, Noch, Roco Minitanks, Roco N gauge, Trix N gauge,
Fleischmann N gauge. Nothing is left.
Marklin, Roco, Fleischmann, Hag and Trix, HO gauge, has been
reduced at least in one piece of each, those that were on
display, but some of them, were unique or only one of a kind, so
there is no way to replace them.
Marklin 1 gauge and MAXI has suffered also, we lost several
unique pieces such 5523 and others impossible to replace
We are now conducting business partially from the old Store and
one temporary location, where we are accommodating our Stock,
but the display of our units, has been severely reduced at this
We must move totally to a new location as the building requires
major repairs, that makes not possible to stay inside doing
business in a regular basis, plus the check out of each unit,
makes it easier, once checked, to store it again in a new place.
Our Mail Order, Internet Order and Dealer's services are
operative now. Only walk ins may have some difficulties to see
all our Stock as it was used to be.
The new address will be given and published as soon as all the
legal stuff is finish and we can be 100% sure that we can
operate normally. There is hundreds of small things to take care
on top of the big problems that an incident such us this crash,
has caused to us, so we require a little bet more time, to offer
again to all our Customers and visitors, the magnificent items
we sell from all our Manufacturers.
Any correspondence by Mail, must be sent at our address as
usual, same any package or parcel. We pick our Mail at the Post
Office as it is not delivered to us until the inner road (inside
the complex) is repaired and open.
Our phones and fax numbers remains the same, so all
communications are open as usual even when not all are located
on the same place, but they are forwarded to our main number.
We are dealing with the Insurance and we will fight to get what
is right, not what they want to offer. If they don't know about
Quality Trains, we do.
Our Stock is starting to receive new fresh material, some
restocking and some new releases. We have received full
cooperation from Roco and Trix and our vendors for Marklin,
including Marklin Inc. among others and from our Bank, who has
given right away, the founds to buy in emergency, to continue
We hope that new shipments will arrive, if material is available
at the Factories, in a couple of weeks. There is a container
from Noch that must arrive to Miami around the 20th. as it was
shipped from Germany way after the accident. Unfortunately, this
time of the year is not the best to refill inventory as all the
Factories are in their Summer Holidays.
We will open a new page with a link from our Home page, to keep
you informed on the last developments, new arrivals or whatever
news we can have for you. Again, we are still with problems to
ship or replace some of the merchandise that was ready to be
shipped by UPS, so we will start to ship via USMail or Federal
Express to remove those packages from our warehouse, but some of
them, we will issue the credits to whatever form of payment you
used, as some packages were totally destroyed and there is no
replacement for the units inside.
We have received more than 1200 e-mails all over the World, from
Customers and non Customers, dozens of letters and postcards, no
idea how many phone calls but also in the hundreds, with words
of support and good wishes. We think that in total, it must be
around the 1500 people who has communicate somehow with us.
We thank you all. This is the best proof that not all is
business but that also exist people who cares for the others.
God bless you all.
Thank you for your continuous support.
Miami August 29th. 1997