MIAMI, Fla. – Mario Cortez said he was sleeping in his Little Havana apartment, getting rest to get up for work early on Friday morning when he heard people yelling.
“I thought it was fighting in the hallway, but then I heard people screaming, ‘get out, get out,' ” Cortez said.
Around 1:40 a.m., cell phone video shows people running from a burning two-story apartment building at SW 7th Street and 10th Avenue.
Dozens of building residents, including more than 20 children, were inside, but all of them, including their pets, were able to get to safety. Fire crews were handing out masks to people who had to evacuate to as a cautionary measure for them amid the current COVID-19 pandemic.
City of Miami Fire Department is investigating what caused the fire, but it is believed it started in an electrical meter room on the first floor. Florida Power and Light was on scene to turn off the power going into the building.
The fire was so intense that it blew out glass windows in the 12 unit building.
Lt. Pete Sanchez said it also burned out the electrical panel. “It caused extensive smoke damage on the first floor and a lot of damage on the second floor as well,” Sanchez said.
Residents said they didn’t hear any alarms and tell Local 10 that the building had failed several inspections. They said they have complained about conditions before and now it is frustrating for them because now they have no place to live. They believe that the fire could have been prevented.
There are now notices on the building stating that it is uninhabitable. If the building cannot be fixed, it might have to be demolished.
Local American Red Cross volunteers from the Greater Miami & Keys Chapter were on site to help coordinate emergency aid to those affected, providing comfort kits and helping the dozens of displaced families to find places to live.