FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Fire investigators are looking through the charred remains of a duplex at 6536 Harbor Road in North Lauderdale trying to figure out what sparked the smokey blaze that left a family of five homeless.

The fire started at 8 a.m. Thursday when no one was at home.

“It was huge, coming through the roof and windows,” said neighbor Annette Anderson.

Dozens of firefighters were on scene battling the blaze and trying to stop it from spreading.

“Our first crews said the back fence was engulfed and then it was fast moving and pretty scary,” said North Lauderdale spokeswoman Jennifer Johnson.

The owner, Champagne Francois, was called at work and rushed home.  His wife was at her job and his kids were at school.

“Right now, we don’t know where we’re gonna go, everything we own is in that house,” said Francois.

Joseph Troutman was washing his car, saw the smoke and started banging on doors to alert his neighbors.

“The neighbors were sleeping and I knocked on their door because the fire was real close,” said Troutman.

Neighbor Annette Anderson said when she saw the flames, “I thought I was dead because it was so close!”

Anderson said she grabbed her children and ran from her home.

The Francois family has insurance and the Red Cross is helping them with temporary housing; but they are just coming to grips with losing all they had and looking for a new home.


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