It’s been over a month since a huge fire damaged thousands of rental cars near the Southwest Florida International Airport, and now, the lot is finally being cleared.
Workers from two different scrap metal companies are transporting the cars to their facilities.
So far, more than half of the cars have been taken to Garden Street Iron and Metal off Metro Parkway. Since Friday, workers have moved 300-plus cars a day to the lot to be crushed and turned into scrap.
“It really looks eerie out there with all those cars. It looks like it’s a movie set or something like that,” said operations manager John Hoving.
The 15-acre fire destroyed more than 3,500 vehicles.
Now, Hoving and his team are turning trash into cash.
“This is about 40 percent of them,” Hoving said. “It goes all the way back to the containers there and we are in the middle of processing.”
About 2,500 of the rental remains from Enterprise and Avis were taken to Garden Street Iron and Metal and are getting turned into scrap metal, which can then be recycled and sold.
“Usually what we do as they come in normal cars and then we bring them to our processing center and we take all the fluids out of them, get the batteries out of them,” Hoving said. “That fire was so hot, all the fluids are gone.”
Trademark Metals workers moved 1,000 destroyed Hertz vehicles to their Punta Gorda location.
“Most of them were burnt beyond recognition,” said general manager Jeff Powers. “They’ll be crushed to send up to an automobile shredder where they’ll be recycled for material to be made into new steel.”
Both Garden Street and Trademark Metals said their workers are moving very quickly to finish the project by next week.