1 hospitalized after North Miami Beach home erupts in flames

MIAMI (WSVN) - Firefighters have extinguished an overnight blaze that erupted inside a North Miami Beach house and left one person hurt.

North Miami Beach Police and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue units responded to the scene along Northeast 16th Avenue and 158th Street, just before 3 a.m., Tuesday.

Officials said a three people were inside the home when the fire started.

“I woke up to the smell of smoke, I thought it might’ve been a cigarette burning or something burning in my bed. It wasn’t my bed,” said Shawn Wakeley. “I walked out of the room, got her and my dog out, made sure they were safe, ran back in and pulled the owner out as far as I can get him, but the smoke kept me from being able to breathe, so I had to run back out.”

A couple living in the home said they had rented a room out.

“It was scary ’cause you don’t expect to wake up in the middle of the night to a fire,” Amanda Ellis said.

During their swift escape, they found the owner of the home, later identified as Derek Lawrence, unconscious in his bedroom where they believe the fire started.

“The back side of the room, which is that window that’s broken,” Wakeley said as he pointed at the room. “It was a mattress that was on fire. I pulled him out of his doorway into the doorway of the kitchen.”

Wakeley said that’s as far as he could pull Lawrence to safety before the smoke overwhelmed him.

“I opened the door and a rush of smoke came in,” Ellis added. “Then it was, ‘OK, we gotta get out.'”

Rescue crews arrived soon after Wakeley moved Lawrence to the other room.

“[Rescue crews] ran right in there and told them where exactly he was, and they just pulled him out up to the front,” Wakeley said.

Wakeley believes he knows what the cause of the fire is.

“It’s a cigarette. He was found asleep with a cigarette,” he said. “It’s the only thing I can think of.”

The owner was evaluated at the scene and then put in the back of an ambulance with an oxygen mask over his face.

He was transported to Jackson Ryder Trauma Center’s Burn Center for treatment.

Officials have not yet provided any information on the extent of his injuries.

“Our firefighters quickly went inside, found the victim, were able to pull the victim out,” said MDFR Lt. Kirsten Miller.

The Red Cross arrived at the scene a short time later to provide any assistance the couple might need.

“We’re safe. We’re OK, but we have nowhere to go because of that,” Wakeley said. “I’m just happy that everybody’s safe. Doesn’t matter. Everybody is safe, and that’s the great part of this.”

Officials said the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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