Early Sunday morning readers notified us of problems at the Walmart on Hillsboro and 441 in Coconut Creek. They saw fire rescue and police vehicles and indicated the store was closed and surrounded by crime scene tape. The store is still closed as of this writing.
We reached out to Walmart as well as to Coconut Creek first responders. We heard back first from Leslie Wright, Senior Media Relations Manager at Walmart’s corporate office in Arkansas. She told us the fire is still under investigation and confirmed the store is still closed. They hope to reopen as soon as possible. She indicated the damage is still being assessed.
The Coconut Creek Police Department referred us to Fire Marshal Jeff Gary of the city’s Fire Rescue team.
He told us that a fire was reported inside the store Sunday morning at 2 am. The fire was mainly on one rack of shelves. Store employees mostly extinguished it and it was almost out by the time Fire Rescue arrived on scene. There was smoke damage to some produce and other open items including clothing.
Mr. Gary told us that the store is now mostly or all cleaned up. They hope to be open late tonight or first thing in the morning.
Cause of the fire is under investigation by CCFR and CCPD.
From the police report:
On 04/10/2016 at approximately 0157 hours, I responded to 5571 Hillsboro Blvd (Walmart) in reference to a fire.
A small fire was extinguished between aisle 17 and 18 of the check-out lanes by Officer Feisthammel and various Walmart employees. Fire Rescue located a large lighter directly in front of the engulfed aisle. Due to the heavy smoke within the store, all of the patrons and employees were evacuated and CCPD locked it down for security purposes. While on crowd control, Officer Bailey was approached by [Name omitted] (age 33). [He] stated his son, [name omitted] (age 6) was possibly to blame. [Omitted] stated while he was checking out in an adjacent aisle, he lost sight of his son and stated he was possibly playing with a lighter. Ofc. Bailey spoke with [the boy] who acknowledged playing with a lighter. [The boy] was crying uncontrollably and stated he was sorry for his actions but did not directly admit to starting the fire.
The assistant store manager … stated Walmart will be able to provide CCTV surveillance in the near future should it be needed. Centeno notified the stores GM … of the incident. Both [managers] are aware of the … family and the actions of the 6 year old. There were no injuries reported as a result of the fire. Photos of the fire were taken and submitted to Foray as evidence. Case cards issued.
The police report indicates the family lives in the Emerald Bay apartments at Boca Entrada (west side of 441 near SW 18th).
Readers contacted us about an incident on Palmetto Park Road just east of 441. A reader at the Walmart saw roughly seven Sheriff cars on the north side of Palmetto near Lowe’s and Walgreen’s.
After that the cars moved first into the parking area of those stores, and later even more PBSO vehicles were seen by other readers at the West Boca Medical Center emergency room.
We contacted PBSO information officer Teri Barbera. She’s not in the office but told us what little she knows at this time:
Deputies were chasing a suspect in a case involving theft. The chase led into an area with bees and deputies were stung. They are being treated at the medical center. Ms. Barbera did not know if the thief was caught when we spoke.
A reader updated us on what she saw:
I personally was there at the scene during almost the entire time. I was on the North side of Walgreens near the wooded area. The young guy who ran from Police to get away and hide stayed down in the murky area with water until the Canine finally arrived.
I only heard one Officer’s request to him to come out before the dog arrived as he would be bitten. All the Officers were standing watching the area where he went in. Nothing was said to try and get him out peacefully before the dog arrived on scene. Must have been 25 minutes before dog arrived. Since I was on the back side, I heard the dog go in and get the guy. I was heading out just after I heard the dog on the South side, making my way around and back to the scene. When I approached, the white guy was laying on the ground with no shirt and handcuffed behind his back. I did see blood on his arm.
Then I heard and noticed all the yelling and jumping…OMG…they were all being stung by bees! I felt so sorry for them all. I looked in my car for anything to help with the swarm of bees, but I had nothing to assist with. They quickly put the guy in the Police car and drove off. Many Officers were clearly visibly shaken with all the bees and stings. I felt so bad for them all.
We at West Boca News send our best wishes to the deputies and hope for their quick recovery.
The West Boca Walmart got off to a beautiful sunrise start this morning. We attended the Grand Opening (or reopening). For those who don’t know, it’s on the southeast corner of Palmetto Park Road and US-441:
Hours are generally 7 am to 10 pm but see our earlier article for more detailed hours.
Below are some photos and videos of the event. First a few shots of the front and the crowd outside before the event started.
Next, here’s a video walk-through of the entrance of the store:
It was definitely a Walmart inside, and it felt new. There’s a lot of space. It seems bigger than we expected. There was some cuteness, with a couple of mascots on hand:
They had some freebies and store manager David Bonutti told us that they have various events happening for the rest of the week, through Sunday. Here are the pharmacy staff with a table and some kind of giveaway.
We were not surprised to see the ammo counter was very busy. It’s a popular thing at Walmart and shoppers like to get there early and get whatever’s on the shelves.
The grocery area, in particular, is larger. We figured it might be 15,000 square feet, but it’s probably over 30,000 square feet. In other words, it’s as big as a Publix.
This throws off our previous analysis of the grocery store competition in West Boca from when we heard Aldi might be coming. Now we wonder if Aldi might not come. The competition may be a tight squeeze for Western Beef, which is right in the middle of two big Walmarts and across the street from a Publix.
There’s good reason for them to worry. Walmart’s parking lot was pretty full for just the first day and so early in the morning:
And people were pouring into the store:
Here are a few more pictures from inside, and some videos of the event:
And this one’s long, but it’s speeches and more including:
Walmart cheer starting around 30 seconds in;
National Anthem around 1:45 in;
Store manager David Bonutti around 4 minutes in; and more.
The Walmart in West Boca will have its Grand Opening on September 10th. There are signs up at both the Palmetto Park and US-441 entrances.
We spoke to one insider who told us the store will actually open for business on September 9th, but the “Grand Opening” will be on the 10th. We were not able to confirm the 9th, however.
We saw a lot of activity as the workers are getting ready. The store hours are up on the front door. General hours are from 7 am to 10 pm. The photo lab and money center will be open from 9 am to 9 pm.
Pharmacy hours are 9 am to 9 pm weekdays, with shorter hours on weekends: 9 am to 7 pm on Saturdays and 10 am to 6 pm on Sundays.
Optical will be from 9 am to 8 pm except for Sundays, which will be limited to just noon until 5 pm.
From our visit today, we expect that the far left turn lane on Palmetto Park westbound will become a problem due to people making U-turns to get into that entrance.
Walmart has not answered our direct inquiries about a specific opening date.
However, two readers tell us they’ve spoken to insiders and the target for a Grand Opening is September 10th.
That would be a bit quicker than what we previously heard from the incoming store manager. In any event, it’s not much more than a month away.
Have any other readers heard anything? Let us know in the comments.
The West Boca Walmart is on the southeast corner of 441 and Palmetto Park Road.