By Gary Nelson

LITTLE HAVANA (CBS4) – A raging fire ripped through a Little Havana apartment building Thursday, leaving four families displaced.

CBS4’s Chopper4 cameras captured images of flames and smoke belching from the windows of an upper floor apartment in the two story building, as a Miami police officer pounded on downstairs doors, sounding the alarm.

The fire – cause unknown – erupted in the apartment of Isis Fernandez, who was at work at the time, cleaning  a building several blocks away.  She saw the smoke billowing nearby and ran home to discover that it was her home on fire.

“It’s impossible, it’s unbelievable,” a weeping Fernandez told CBS4’s Gary Nelson.  “I work hard cleaning houses and buildings.  That was everything I have.  I have lost everything.”

Neighbors were evacuated from adjoining buildings as a precaution.

“They came and told us and we got out,” said Jonathan Rovelo, who abandoned his apartment along with his assortment of dogs.  “We’re safe.  They took care of the problem and got us out.”

The building owner, Brenda Castillo, who lives next door, was critical of the time it took for firefighters to arrive.

“We called the rescue, but the media got here before the firemen.  The firemen took too long.”

Miami fire Lieutenant Ignatius Carroll said units arrived within four minutes of getting the call.  As for the media beating the fire trucks to the scene, news crews just happened to be right around the corner, covering a shooting.

The Red Cross arrived at the fire scene Thursday afternoon to help the displaced residents, seven adults and one child, with emergency shelter.  While the apartment where the fire began was destroyed, all four units suffered fire or smoke damage, leaving the building uninhabitable.

“I don’t know what I will do.  I just don’t know,” said Isis Fernandez as tears coursed down her cheeks.

To view a slideshow of the fire, click here.

Comments (2)
  1. GAIN AND AGEIN says:


  2. Jane Doe says:

    The fire department’s response time depends on two factors. One is which station they are coming from as the closest one can have units out on calls. There has been a time where the closet unit station that was availible was in Opa Locka and the call was in Aventura. I am sure that there are times where a City of Miami fire has to come from a distance as well. The second factor which bothers me even more is tha way people will not stop for the fire and fire rescue units at an intersection where they are running lights and sirens. I see this everyday. There are cars that even speed up to avoid stopping. Then you have drivers that don’t even move when fire is behind them with their lights and siresn on.

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