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Fire investigators are examining the charred remains of a Coral Gables business believed to have been the target of a fiery attack.

Vivian Mannerud, suspects that someone tossed a Molotov cocktail at the building, where she has operated an international charter flight business that specializes in trips to Cuba since 1982. Most recently, the Archdiocese of Miami hired the company, Airline Brokers Company Inc., to transport 300 people from South Florida to the island for the Pope's historic visit at the end of March.

Mannerud received a call from the alarm company at 3:15 in the morning, Friday. She arrived on the scene to find her business gutted and charred with the windows blown out.

The business has been controversial for many years, and people have shown negative feelings toward it in the past. Mannerud believes someone may have hit the building with a Molotov cocktail, but stops short of naming any possible subjects. "There's people that do not agree with the charter flights to Cuba and will go to any lengths to stop them," she said.

Federal and state investigators with dogs trained to sniff out accerlant have arrived on the scene. Just before noon, the dogs sat down in two different spots, signifying they found something. However, Coral Gables Firefighters have not gone as far as calling it suspicious.

Mannerud plans to rebuild these offices. She said she is not giving up on what she does, and she believes in providing those charter flights to Cuba.


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