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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Residents of a Miami apartment escaped a potentially deadly fire early Wednesday morning.

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The fire erupted in a second floor unit of a five story apartment building at NW 22nd Avenue and NW 9th Street.

Arriving firefighters saw heavy smoke and flames coming from the second floor.

“The amount of smoke that was generated made it very difficult for a lot of people to actually get out of their units so that was the challenge that a lot of firefighters had to deal with, with taking multiple people off of several balconies to get them to safety,” said Miami Fire Rescue spokesman Captain Ignatius Carroll Jr.

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Juan Pedro Abascal lives in the apartment where the fire started.

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“When I entered the room there was a fire in my bed. I went to the hallway to get the extinguisher. When I entered the room again to put the fire out I just couldn’t because of the smoke, the black smoke, it was so dense, that I started feeling very bad,” said Abascal. “I thought I was going to die because I had no strength I fell to the ground.”

He managed to build up the strength and make it out of the apartment. Other residents, like Maribel Guillen who lives just a few doors down with her family, could not.

Guillen said her son-in-law told her they had to get out because there was a fire and the only way was to through the balcony. Firefighters used a ladder truck to rescue her and her family.

Firefighters were able to contain the fire to the unit where it started. Abascal’s apartment was heavily damaged by the fire, the unit above it was also damaged.

More than two dozen firefighters were called in to fight the fire and assist in the rescues. Carroll said extra fire rescue units were called in to handle the number of people complaining of discomfort caused by the smoke. One person was taken to the hospital.

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The cause of the fire is under investigation.