PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – A fire that broke out Tuesday morning at a townhouse in Pembroke Pines — and then reignited hours later — is believed to have been caused by an electrical problem, authorities said.
The fire was first reported around 3:15 a.m. in the 8900 block of Palm Tree Lane and it reignited around 8:30 a.m., authorities said. In total, firefighters spent nine hours battling the blaze in the Westview neighborhood that has destroyed at least six units.
“At one point you could sit there and watch the fire bouncing from building to building,” said Curtis Jantz, who lost his home in the blaze.
Two minors were taken to the hospital by their parents to be evaluated for smoke inhalation, authorities said. They were in stable condition.
Authorities also said a cat in one of the connecting townhouses died due to smoke inhalation while crews were evacuating families in the community.
Another cat was transported to St. Francis Animal Hospital.
The Red Cross said it is helping coordinate emergency aid to 10 families affected, including 18 people.
According to Pembroke Pines police, officers and firefighters arrived at the scene to find smoke and flames coming from one of the townhomes.
Police said firefighters were able to subdue the fire, but six connecting townhomes had to be evacuated due to smoke damage.
Officials said the fire traveled laterally through a shared attic.
“They just got me outside and that’s when I noticed that there was a fire burning next door,” Dominick Treta, 84, said.
Treta lives in one of the affected units. He told Local 10 News reporter Trent Kelly that he awoke to the sound of firefighters pounding on his front door.
“They practically hand-carried me out, you know, because I was sound asleep,” he said.
Another resident, Nestor Palma, told Local 10 News he couldn’t salvage a thing.
“I lost everything,” he said. “I guess I’m in the denial phase right now.”
While authorities believe the cause of the fire was electrical, the fire inspector will continue to investigate to determine the official cause.
The Red Cross and the police department’s victim’s advocate are assisting the displaced families.
Treta said he too will not be able to go home for a while because there is now a hole in his roof, as well as smoke damage.
How to help: The Red Cross says you can make a financial donation to help people affected by home fires and other disasters in the United States and around the world at redcross.org/donate.
A GoFundMe page has been created to directly assist the families affected by Tuesday’s fire in Pembroke Pines.
How to prepare: Go to redcross.org/homefires to find out how to protect yourself and your home from fires.