Officials say apartment fire could have been avoided
PLANTATION, Fla. (WSVN) -- One man's mistake sparked a scorcher. An apartment building had to be evacuated and many families have been displaced.
Plantation residents returned from church at around 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning and came home to an inferno. "I'm coming down Sunrise Boulevard, and it didn't look so bad," said Patricia Rambass. "Then we got here, and there was a lot more smoke, and now they said it's been shut down."
Nine families were displaced when a fire forced the evacuation of a 27-unit building at Lake Park Gardens on 4750 NW 10th Court. Residents ran to safety as the flames quickly spread, fueled by high winds and the building's design. "The building as a common roof," said Plantation Fire Department Battalion Chief, Joel Gordon, "which means it's an open space from one end to the other, so once the fire in the room of origin burned through to the ceiling, the wind pushed it into the second apartment."
The room of origin was Norris Brown's bedroom, in his third floor apartment. "I am kind of embarrassed," said Brown, "but I'm scared too."
Smoke billowed from the roof, flames scattered about the building. Brown later told officials that he had been smoking in bed. The Fire Marshall confirmed that was the cause of the blaze, and Brown himself tried to extinguish the fire before calling 911. "I ran out with a container," said Brown, "then I tried putting it in the shower, then I ran through the hallway to get a fire extinguisher."
But it was too late. Brown was no match for the blaze. "By the time I came back with the fire extinguisher," said Brown, "the whole building was almost on fire."
Hours later, families returned to salvage what little remained, saying the disaster could have been avoided. "He's careless, you know, and we all gotta pay for somebody's mistake," said Willy Torres.
Officials have used this incident as a reminder to people that one of the first things you should do in case of an emergency is, of course, call 911.
The Red Cross has offered the residents of the apartment complex assistance. They are being put in hotels for three days, but after that, they are on their own. As many as nine families were displaced, as a third of the building has been deemed uninhabitable.
Two units were completely destroyed, by the fire, authorities said. Seven other units suffered water damage.
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