80-year-old man soaked towel, hid in bathroom during condo fire

Man found dead inside bathroom Tuesday, authorities say

By Roy Ramos - Reporter

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. - Cellphone video captured the intense flames that tore through a condominium building in Pompano Beach just after 1 a.m. Tuesday.

Nearly 100 residents ran for their lives, some running onto their balconies, waiting to be rescued.

"What was scary was there was a lot of smoke everywhere," one resident said.

According to Pompano Beach Fire Rescue officials, a woman said she walked out of her bathroom to find her seventh-floor condo unit on fire. While she was able to make it out safely, residents said everything she owned was destroyed.

"She lost everything. She had no phone, no relatives, but she has got us," one resident said.

Just four units away, the woman's neighbor, Vincent Andretta, 80, was unable to make it out. His family told Local 10 News that he was on the phone when he saw the smoke.  

The doorknobs were too hot, so they said he soaked a towel and hid in the bathroom, where firefighters found his body.

"He became trapped and died of smoke inhalation," Pompano Beach spokeswoman Sandra King said.

The Red Cross provided shelter to 49 residents, while others found their own places to stay.  

The Broward Sheriff's Office secured the building Wednesday, as the investigation into what sparked the blaze continues. 

"As you go up the stairs, you can really, really see the damage and it hits you," one resident said.

King said the 15-story building did not have fire sprinklers.

She said it was built before a state law went into effect which requires all high-rise buildings to have sprinkler systems.

The state statute states that by December 2019, all high-rise buildings must be retrofitted to have sprinklers.

King said the fire marshal was working with the people who own and manage the building to retrofit the building, but said it's regrettable that the building was not retrofitted in time to prevent or mitigate the deadly fire.

Residents were allowed to return to the building Wednesday to retrieve belongings they needed until it is safe to move back in. 

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