HOLLYWOOD (CBSMiami.com) – Three families are homeless this new year after a fire tore through their Hollywood tri-plex early Tuesday morning.
It started in the middle apartment and spread to the other two next door.
“Our units arrived to find heavy smoke, heavy fire coming out of the rear of this structure,” Hollywood Fire Division Chief Joel Medina told CBS4’s Natalia Zea.
The tri-plex owners live in the front and apartment and say they heard the woman who lives in the middle screaming. They all rushed outside and were safe. Firefighters took that woman to the hospital for smoke inhalation- but she was released.
The only fatality was an African Grey- the owners’ beloved bird.
Xavier Rubio and his daughter were out when the fire started. When they came home he says they saw pure black smoke. He told Zea it was so smoky he couldn’t tell which apartment it was coming from.
Rubio lost most of his possessions and is now relying on the Red Cross for help, like the others who live here. In all, 5 people were displaced.
Firefighters say it started in the bed in the middle apartment. They say the woman who lives there claims she left a laptop sitting on the bed and went out to smoke. She says when she came back in the room was engulfed in flames.
The tri-plex owner believes though, that she fell asleep on the bed while smoking.
Either way, Chief Medina says the fire burned quickly.
“The mattress alone has a very large fire load. By that I mean it’s a lot of fuel that makes the fire burn very hot very quick the second that mattress catches on fire. So at the point that mattress caught on fire that room was well on it’s way to being fully involved with flame.”
Firefighters managed to keep the flames from spreading to the buildings right next door. Firefighters say this incident have been deadly if not for the timing of it. Those who were home were awake after celebrating on New Year’s Eve and escaped easily.
“2:30 in the morning on any other night I’m sure would’ve caused a different kind of complications….It’s a tough way to start a new year. “
The owner of the building told Zea that he does not have homeowner’s insurance. He says he let it lapse six months ago because he could no longer afford it.