Dozens of residents displaced after fire impacts 75 units of Miami Gardens apartment complex

Residents furious after property manager reveals building had no fire insurance

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – A large fire at an apartment complex in Miami Gardens has forced dozens of residents to relocate.

In total, 75 units inside the building were affected.

The flames sparked on Saturday morning and black smoke could be seen for miles.

The roof of the building was left scorched and ripped away. Windows and the sides of multiple apartments can be seen charred.

“Of those 75, we’re projecting approximately half were destroyed as a result of the partial collapse of the roof, coupled with water damage and smoke and fire damage,” said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Ray Jadallah.

Many of the building’s residents were caught off guard, making it out with little-to-no belongings.

“It’s scary,” said resident Zorodzai Rukwasi. “It’s only today when we’re here, that’s when we realized that, oh, I think that’s it.”

Family after family discovering that in addition to losing everything in the fire, the building they lived in did not have fire insurance.

Monday morning, the property manager told residents the building had its 40-year recertification and owners were asked to pay a special assessment. He said most of the people who were there said it was too much money, and the insurance company cancelled the policy because the recertification was not completed.

The property manager didn’t want to say much more on her way out of the meeting, where things got heated.

“I’m so angry,” said resident Valerie Hunter. “We’re angry.”

Residents said they had been paying for roof repairs, and some said they couldn’t even sell their units because of a lack of insurance.

In the days since the fire, groups like the Global Empowerment Mission have stepped in with resources to help the displaced survivors.

“Each kit has enough to sustain them for a little bit while they’re displaced, and we have some cash cards as well that we’ll be handing out,” said Kimberly Bentley with the Global Empowerment Mission.

Other agencies, like the American Red Cross, and leaders from Miami-Dade County have maintained a steady presence at the complex as well.

Police are controlling access to the property for safety.

Fire investigators are working to discover what caused the blaze.

“All united to do everything that we can in this time of need for these families who are suffering right now,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

About the Authors:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.