Bay Harbor Islands home goes up in flames, elderly couple escapes

BAY HARBOR ISLANDS, Fla. – An elderly couple was able to escape a massive fire inside their Bay Harbor Islands home.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue crews were called to the scene just after 8 a.m. Friday to find the first floor engulfed in flames and thick smoke billowing out of the home.

Investigators said the couple who lived inside had escaped and were sitting outside of the home waiting for crews to arrive. The husband told firefighters that he was in front of the home doing yardwork when he noticed smoke. He was able to rush inside and get his wife to safety who was asleep upstairs. Investigators said smoke detectors were installed and working and that was what alerted the homeowners to the fire.

Neighbors said they were shocked to see what was happening.

“I came outside and I saw all of the flames and I was shaking,” said Ligia Lustgarten, who told Local 10 she has been not only a neighbor, but a friend to the couple for 45 years.

Neighbor Gerardo Feterman said he saw flames coming through the roof and through the windows of the second floor. “They were really, really massive.”

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue crews responded quickly to get the fire under control, but those who witnessed it said it was a scary scene.

“They could have been hurt badly. All of his body was black,” Feterman said.

A total of 17 units responded to the scene, according to a spokesperson. The couple was taken to the hospital as a precaution and they are expected to OK.

Captain Doug Keller, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, said: “The two people got out. They were covered in soot a little bit, so they had to go through the smoke (to get out).”

Fire investigators could be seen inside the home throughout the day working to determine the cause of what may have cause the massive blaze. They said it appears to have started in the family room of the home and spread quickly.

Keller said the home has damage on both the first and second floor. “The wind that we had today, once one of the windows broke or a door opened, it was a very fast, growing fire. They are very lucky," Keller said.

About the Author:

Amy Viteri is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who joined Local 10 News in September 2015. She's currently an investigative reporter and enjoys uncovering issues facing South Florida communities. A native of the Washington, D.C., area, she's happy to be back in South Florida, where she earned a masters degree at the University of Miami.