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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – An investigation into a fire at a Northeast Miami-Dade strip mall, led police to a deadly discovery Tuesday morning.
Firefighters found a body inside a burned business located at Northeast 6th Avenue and 148th Street.
It is not known if the man died as a result of foul play or due to an accidental fire.
Authorities say the fire started in an electrical room behind a store, where one man died and another was injured and transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital.
The Medical Examiner’ Office took the victim’s body away on a gurney around 5:00 a.m.
A man who called 911 said three people were actually inside the electrical room at the time of the fire.
He said a friend alerted him to the blaze.
“He call me, call me and he said ‘Help, Help the meter room is on fire’ so I run and when I looked, I saw one of them with his foot burned up and I called 911,” recalled Clyde, who called for help.
Clyde told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “It was 11:20 last night when I called.”
He said he knows the people who were inside the room and says the man who lost his life was disabled and may have been trapped.
“If I had known that the guy in there was trapped, and he walks like this and he can hardly walk, if I had known he was trapped I would have gone there and pulled him out,” he said.
The owner of the Beauty Supply store, Eve Joseph, says she was woken up by investigators telling her there was a fire at her store.
Joseph says it wasn’t until she arrived on the scene that she learned about a body. She did not know who the person was.
“I just can’t even believe it,” she says. “They called me and said there was a fire in the building so I came down.”
Joseph says her store and the building has extensive water damage, and they do not have power. The adjacent shops also have water damage.
“It’s a bad day for us,” she said. “There is no way I can function. There is a lot of water and I have no lights and I don’t know what I am going to do.”
Investigators have not released the cause of the fire or the identity of the victims.
The man who called 911, Clyde, says he believes all three people inside the electrical room were homeless and seeking shelter from the cold weather.
“They were homeless and that’s what homeless people do on a night when it is cold,” he said. “They find shelter and sleep in a room.”
Nearby, Samuel Bienaime, who has owned and run Samuel Flowers since 1994, said he has told the property owner before about some issues in the past.
“There are always a lot of people hanging out in this shopping center,” he said. “There are always a lot of people hanging out every night. They are here every night and we have talked to the owner about that.”