FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A 16-year-old girl was taken to Broward Health Medical Center Friday morning after a fire erupted inside of a home in Fort Lauderdale, authorities confirmed.
The fire was reported in the 1500 block of Southwest 31st Avenue.
A family of three and their pets were rescued from the home and the teen was taken to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.
Investigators said Friday that the fire started in an electrical outlet not far from the girl’s bed.
“It paralyzes you, not so much because of the fire, but it gets to a point you can’t breathe and you can’t see,” homeowner Jackson Valiente told Local 10 News reporter Annaliese Garcia.
Valiente said the smoke alarms went off inside his house, which woke him up.
He said he walked to the kitchen and saw smoke but no flames.
“Then I rushed to the kids’ rooms and it’s just a matter of seconds fire was in my daughter’s room,” Valiente said.
Valiente pulled out his daughter and then his son, Sam.
“I’m sleeping and then my father tugs me out of my bed to go through that door,” Sam explained to Garcia.
Valiente is an avid animal rescuer, who owns four dogs, five cats and one bird. He was able to save most of his animals from the fire, except for one cat.
“Unfortunately I lost one of them. I couldn’t keep going back in, the smoke was too thick,” he said.
Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Stephen Gollan said the smoke detectors inside the home saved the family’s lives.
Gollan said the house still had hurricane panels up, which makes it harder to escape from a home during a fire. Gollan said homeowners should take their hurricane shutters up as soon as they are no longer needed.
“If there was someone trapped in one of the bedrooms and not able to get out of the main exit because of fire . . .they aren’t able to open a window and go out that way because it is blocked by the hurricane shutters,” Gollan said.
According to a GoFundMe page, half of the home was destroyed in the fire, including the children’s bedrooms.