WEST MIAMI (CBS4) – Fifty residents of a West Miami assisted living facility were evacuated from their homes, with three people taken to the hospital, early Wednesday morning after a fire erupted on the third floor.
According to firefighters, the fire started between 3 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. in a third floor apartment of The Pointe North Gables located in the 5800 block of SW 8th Street.
West Miami police officers assisted Miami-Dade firefighters in going door to door to wake up the building’s residents and get them to safety.
“The evacuations can be difficult if they are non-ambulatory,” said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Captain Jack Swerdloff. “Luckily in this case many of the people were ambulatory. Those that weren’t made it a little bit tough. We made it a second alarm so we hand more hands. We ended up with about 20 hands here, so we had plenty of people to either carry or use the facility’s wheelchairs to bring people back and forth.”
Three of the building’s residents who were taken to the hospital are doing OK, CBS4’s Kara Kostanich reported.
Mercy Mont Ross’ grandmother is one of the more that 50 elderly evacuated. She said it was scary.
“They were just woken up in the dark by men in uniform so they didn’t really know what was happening at first,” she said.
Eddie Ballester with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said rescuers worked together to bring everyone out.
“They went through thick smoke, searching, eventually had to force doors to gain access to people and they brought them out to safety,” he said.
The elderly residents were brought to the nearby parking lot nearby were they watched and waited under the moonlight.
“When you take them out of their routine and out of their regular setting they just kind of nervous and scared,” Ross said.
Miami firefighters assisted in containing and putting out the fire. Those evacuated were served breakfast by American Red Cross volunteers then put on a county bus and taken to a safe place.
Gladys Valdes, owner of The Point, said they are doing well.
“They’re singing in there, they’ve been changed, they’ve had their medication… I’m mean we’re doing good,” she said.
Ross said, “It was organized chaos… but we knew how well controlled it was. It really did work like a fine oiled machine.”
The cause of the fire is under investigation.