An electrical malfunction caused the fire that destroyed Eileen's Place bicycle shop Tuesday morning, according to a Pasco County spokesperson.

  • Fire happened off State Road 52 in Hudson
  • Owner had been selling, repairing bikes for 38 years
  • Investigators believe electrical malfunction to blame

"I don't really know what happened," said owner Hermann Freiberg. "I got here about 7 (a.m.) They told me I was shut down."

The spokesperson said it's believed a problem with the electrical supply into the building sparked the flames around 1 a.m. Fourteen fire rescue units responded to the store on State Road 52 and had it under control in about an hour.

A pile of hundreds of burned and mangled bikes stood outside the shop by late morning. Freiberg estimates more than 400 were destroyed.

"I don't even know who's going to pay for this," Freiberg said. "I have about $90,000 of this merchandise, and that's due in February and March. I have to call my suppliers, see if they can help me with that."

A customer and employee said the loss is especially tough because of how much Freiberg has given back to the community through the years.

"This man gives away more things to people that don't have money in a day than he does in selling it,” said employee Charles Hanson.

"A Vietnam vet that has a special bike he made for himself -- he repairs it for free. I mean, he's put a lot of hours in,” said customer Richard Shapiro.

The spokesperson said the building was found unsafe and needs to be torn down.

Freiberg said he plans to rebuild in the same location.