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Fire burning beneath rubble of collapsed Surfside condo hindering rescue efforts

Levine Cava: ‘We’re facing incredible difficulties with this fire’

Florida officials provided an update on the ongoing rescue and recovery efforts in Surfside following Thursday morning’s deadly building collapse.
Florida officials provided an update on the ongoing rescue and recovery efforts in Surfside following Thursday morning’s deadly building collapse.

SURFSIDE, Fla. – Officials provided an update on the ongoing rescue and recovery efforts in Surfside following Thursday morning’s deadly building collapse.

Fire burning beneath the crumbled remains of the destroyed section of Champlain Towers South is impeding rescue efforts, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a media briefing just after 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava also spoke at the press conference, and she explained the situation in further detail.

“We’re facing incredible difficulties with this fire,” she said. “It’s a very deep fire.”

Crews are working to discover the exact location of the fire, but thick smoke beneath the rubble is making it very difficult.

“The smoke has spread laterally throughout the pile,” Levine Cava said. “We’re using everything possible to address this fire. We’re using infrared technology, we’re using foam, we’re using water and all the tactics we can to contain the fire.”

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Smoke could be seen seeping through the rubble Saturday morning as crews continued hitting areas of the crumbled remains with water hoses.

“If you were there the morning after, you didn’t see it smoldering like it is now,” said DeSantis. “The stench is very thick, and it obviously has created quite an obstacle.”

The mayor also said that the numbers had not changed since her last update. There remain four confirmed deaths and 159 people unaccounted for.

“Our top priority now continues to be search and rescue,” she said. “We continue to have hope. We’re continuing to search. We’re looking for people alive in the rubble. That is our priority and our teams have not stopped.”

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky said it has been a while since workers have heard any sounds from inside the rubble.

Through the night, fire rescue crews were unable to locate anyone in the wreckage, dead or alive.

“At this time, we haven’t located any victims,” Cominsky said. “As we’re moving debris, as the smoke is increasing, we still haven’t come across anything along the sign of life.”

Watch the complete comments from DeSantis and Levine Cava below:

Officials provided an update on the ongoing rescue and recovery efforts in Surfside following Thursday morning's deadly building collapse.
Officials provided an update on the ongoing rescue and recovery efforts in Surfside following Thursday morning's deadly building collapse.

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About the Authors:

David Dwork joined the WPLG Local 10 News team in August 2019. Born and raised in Miami-Dade County, David has covered South Florida sports since 2007.

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.