DEERFIELD BEACH (CBSMiami) —One woman died in a fire at a Deerfield Beach high-rise fire Saturday afternoon, a spokesperson for the Broward Sheriff’s Office said.
The fire started in unit 902 of the Tiara East Apartments at 333 N. Ocean Drive in Deerfield Beach, according to officials.
The resident of that unit, Ellen Kartman, 67, died in the blaze.
“You always wonder what could happen if there was a big fire in a building like this. Well, we just found out,” neighbor Bill Bucharme.
Bucharme was one of dozens of onlookers outside the condominium Saturday when they heard the fire alarm go off.
“I looked over and there was 50 people in my yard looking up,” neighbor Jim Higgins said. “There was smoke coming out of the building. Heavy, thick, black smoke.”
The damage was kept to the south side of the building. Units on the 9th, 10th and 11th floors had smoke and fire damage, according to authorities with BSO.
The building was charred on both sides.
“There was a flash bang,” BSO Spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright explained. “And at that point apartment 902 was fully engulfed.”
Coleman-Wright said firefighters responding to the scene described it as a “blow torch situation”.
“We watched all the firemen come out of the building,” Bucharme said. “They hit the grass on their knees. They were wore out. It was sad.”
BSO confirms one firefighter was transported to the hospital suffering from burns to his face. He was treated and released. He’ll be on injured duty as he heals.
“I was in my apartment doing my math work at the time,” 13-year-old Robert Litzenberger recalled. “Then my dad called me and said, ‘Get the heck out of the apartment. There’s a fire!’”
The 2-alarm fire sent residents, including Litzenberger, scrambling to escape.
“As soon as I got up to leave the fire alarm went off,” Litzenberger said. “I was talking to him and he told me to get the heck out of there quick and I was like wait what about your computer. He said grab the computer. Grab the car keys. get out now.”
Not everyone made it out in time.
Ellen Kartman, 67, died insider her apartment.
Authorities said she lived there with her husband, but was home alone at the time.
“I can tell you that her family arrived here on scene and they were just completely devastated,” Coleman-Wright said.
Neighbors share their pain.
“I feel bad for everybody. I feel terrible,” Ducharme said. “Look up there. Somebody lost everything they have and one of their loved ones.”
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
The Red Cross was on scene to assist displaced residents.