FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A 93-year-old man has died after a fire erupted early Friday morning inside one of the units of a high-rise condominium building in Fort Lauderdale, officials confirmed.
The fire was reported around 1 a.m. at the Ocean Summit condominium building at 4010 Galt Ocean Drive.
Fort Lauderdale police said the blaze has been ruled accidental, and they identified the victim as Howard Perkins.
Fire investigators said the flames appeared to have started in the living room of an apartment on the 9th floor where Perkins lived and was found unresponsive.
His partner tried to call for help but it was too late.
A longtime resident of the building told Local 10 News that he and his wife were awakened early in the morning by the fire alarm going off.
“Around 1:30 in the morning roughly my wife heard a small beeping sound, and it was very strange because it wasn’t real loud,” Gary Asker said. “She woke up to investigate and was out in the hall, and it was blinking lights in the hall. She called downstairs and they said it was a fire on the ninth floor.”
Firefighters confirmed that the ninth and 10th floors were evacuated for about an hour and a half.
They said the fire was contained to the living room of the unit in question and there was no damage to other units.
A Fort Lauderdale Police Department Crime Scene Investigations van was spotted outside the building.
According to firefighters, a man in his late 50s escaped from the unit and went to a security guard for help.
He was taken to Broward Health Medical Center to be treated for smoke inhalation and burns. Authorities said the man’s partner, who he has been with for more than two decades and who was disabled, died as a result of the fire. They said he was found in the living room area where the fire originated.
Fort Lauderdale Battalion Chief Stephen Gollan said there are no sprinklers inside the building, which could have made all the difference in this case.
“A lot of these older high rises here are unsprinklered, which created a very dangerous situation,” he said.
According to Asker, there has never been a fire inside the building during the long time that he’s lived there.
“They were thinking of putting in a sprinkler system, which is a lot of money, and there’s a lot of people that are against it because there’s never been a fire in this building in 60 years, I guess,” Asker said. “So, it’s a debate and now this is gonna bring it right to the floor.”
Neighbors hope this tragedy helps bring attention to much-needed improvements to buildings in the area.
“I can’t imagine my grandmother cooking something catching fire and having the wherewithal to grab a fire extinguisher or call the police in time,” said neighbor Gino Branciforte.