SUNNY ISLES BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - An elderly woman died and eight people were injured after a fire broke out at a high-rise in Sunny Isles Beach, Thursday evening.
Cameras captured flames coming out of at least one unit at the Winston Towers, located in the area of Northeast 174th Street, west of N. Bay Road.
According to officials, the three-alarm apartment fire sparked on the 17th floor of the the 25-story structure.
“Upon arrival we had multiple units utilized and man power utilized in order to locate and safely extinguish this fire,” said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Lt. Felipe Lay.
7Skyforce flew over the scene, just after 5:30 p.m., where dark smoke could be seen billowing out of a window. “You don’t understand how black it was. It was pitch black,” said Richard Glants, who lives on the 17th floor.
Residents said the black smoke was the main problem for everyone trying to escape. “I fought my way to the door, I opened the door, I got four towels, I covered them up,” Glants said. “I grabbed them and when we came out, literally pitch black. You can’t breathe.”
Glants described the emotional moment when he had to go back inside the burning high-rise to rescue his wife and children. “It took me four times to get to the apartment,” he said. “Four tries with two firemen and when we got there, I called her, told her to open the door and finally got in.”
Nine people were sick from the heavy smoke. Five were treated at the scene and four were transported to a nearby hospital, two in critical condition.
One of the two people in critical condition, identified as 86-year-old Nina Sachnowski, succumbed to her injuries, Friday.
Everyone has been allowed back into the building, except for several families who lived on the 17th floor and were displaced by the fire.
“Firefighters fought the flames to be able to prevent extension to other units,” Lay said. “We were successful in doing that, in putting out the fire.”
The Glants family is one of many who were shaken but thankful for the men and women who put their lives on the line to help them.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
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