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Firefighter who worked Surfside site arrested, asks for leniency

‘After all the dead bodies, the smell, he just got overwhelmed,’ attorney says

Miami-Dade County firefighter Fernando Castano faces charges in an alleged domestic dispute with his estranged wife in Cutler Bay.
Miami-Dade County firefighter Fernando Castano faces charges in an alleged domestic dispute with his estranged wife in Cutler Bay.

A Miami-Dade County firefighter who worked at the site of the Surfside condo collapse has been arrested, and his attorney asked a judge to take that into account when setting his bond Wednesday.

The charges against Fernando Castano, 47, stem from an alleged domestic dispute with his estranged wife Tuesday afternoon in Cutler Bay.

His wife told police she’d recently moved out of her home along with their children and, according to an arrest report, Castano wanted to meet at a restaurant, but they refused.

He’s accused of going to the home and trying to talk to his wife about their marriage, and at which point police say Castano got upset and grabbed a black handgun.

[ALSO SEE: Experts address mental health concerns after Surfside condo collapse]

According to the arrest affidavit, Castano pointed the gun and said, “If you want to end things, I should end it right now.”

After he was asked to leave, Castano is accused of pushing his estranged wife and saying that “he was not going to end up in the back of a police vehicle and that he would commit multiple homicides and kill himself,” the arrest report said.

His attorney said Castano has been with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue for almost 21 years and was with Hialeah Fire Rescue for about seven years.

He asked for the judge to consider his search and recovery work at the site of the Champlain Towers South collapse when issuing his bond.

[ALSO SEE: Surfside crews saluted as condo collapse recovery mission ends]

“They were going through a divorce,” the attorney said in the bond court hearing. “After all the dead bodies, the smell, he just got overwhelmed by what he was doing the whole time at Surfside.

“From what I heard from police officers, it was horrendous. The smell, the body parts, it was just disgusting. He lost control of himself, apparently, from what everyone’s saying.”

In court, Castano told the judge that he was at the Surfside site “from day one until he arrived home on Friday,” saying the house was empty.

He was ordered to stay away from his estranged wife and their children and to give up his weapons.

He got a $10,000 bond and house arrest on his five domestic violence charges. Castano posted that bond and was expected to be released from jail Thursday afternoon.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue released the following statement regarding Castano’s arrest:

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (MDFR) is aware of the arrest of one of our employees in relation to a domestic dispute that took place on Tuesday, July 27, 2021. Per County and Department policy, the employee will be placed on administrative duty pending further review of this incident.


About the Author:

Eden Checkol co-anchors Local 10's 10 p.m. weeknight newscast on WSFL and also reports on WPLG newscasts. She’s a Minnesota native who is thrilled to leave the snow behind and call South Florida home.