FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — An accidental fire forced two families out of their homes just one day before the holidays.
Parts of the ceiling collapsed around one family’s Christmas tree after the fire broke out overnight on the roof of a QuadPlex at 4079 N.W. 31st Street.
“I’m feeling lucky to be alive,” said Tony Rolle, who was asleep at around 10 p.m. Wednesday when firefighters pulled him from the burning building.
His family also made it out safely.
“I was watching TV and my auntie was in the house cooking, getting ready for Christmas dinner. And the neighbor knocked on the door, said the house was on fire and we should get out,” said Michael Petty, who is visiting his family for Christmas.
According to Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue, workers fixing the building’s roof earlier in the day accidentally left hot tar on the roof and it ignited.
“It’s just crazy. We are trying to figure out why they would they tar the building right before the holidays when people are living here? There are kids and stuff that live in the apartment,” said Petty. “They jeopardized the kids’ safety and the safety of everyone else on the building.”
Two families were forced out of their homes, leaving about a dozen people without a place to stay.
“I’m very sorry for the family because I know they have kids and this is just a very sad situation to go on right before Christmas,” said Trelayna Reliford, a neighbor.
Neighbors have offered help, storing the Rolle family’s Christmas dinner in the fridge since their power is out.
Fortunately, Rolle said the gifts he bought for his grandkids made it out of the home untouched.
The family is determined to not let the fire ruin their holiday.
“For me, I just want to make sure my two grand boys have a merry Christmas,” said Tony.
The Red Cross has offered assistance to the displaced residents. It’s unclear when they will be able to return to their homes.