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MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami) – Miami Gardens Police teamed up with the Miami Dolphins as they lent a helping hand to residents displaced by a fire.
Dolphins players and alumni distributed meals for those looking to rebuild.
“They’ve gone through a tough time and there’s more they have to deal with,” said Miami Dolphins Senior VP Jason Jenkins. “This is a long-term process. It’s sort of like other relief efforts that we’ve done. We sort of look at this the same way. We’re here for the people in Miami Gardens.”
Wide receiver Malcolm Lewis, tight end Marqueis Gray and wide receiver Kenny Stills signed autographs and took pictures with fans after handing out meals.
“When I first pulled in we saw a lot of frowns and it was a little bit sad but now that everyone’s coming around and meeting us it’s a lot of positive vibes,” said Gray.
“They’re going through a tough time right now and they appreciate everything they’re getting right now,” said Lewis.
Cell phone video captured the flames that swept through the Crystal Lake Apartment Complex off Northwest 207th Street by 27th Avenue last Wednesday.
Cell phone video also shows another dramatic image: a firefighter pulling one person down a flight of stairs away from the building.
According to the fire department, about 50 people were left homeless.
“Totally exhausting,” said Maria, a resident of the building, speaking to CBS4 the day of the fire. “There are rumors that we don’t have rental insurance and I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what will happen now I have nowhere to go.”
Miami Gardens Police say the man who started the blaze, 19-year-old Malachi Luke Wilder, lived in a second-floor apartment.
Luke Wilder was charged with 1st degree arson and attempted second-degree murder after police say he used a lighter in an attempt to kill himself by setting his mattress on fire.
Since the fire, the community has stepped up to help with donations such as groceries, hot meals and clothing for residents to pick up at the apartment office.
The Dolphins say they’re just happy they can do their part.
“We’re going to share a meal today,” Jenkins said. “Pass out a meal today but we’re going to be here for life. So we want to make sure they get that message. We know that and we’re good community partners.”
The Dolphins say they plan to assess how else they can help the residents.