LAUDERHILL, FLA. (WSVN) - Investigators are treating a fire at an apartment complex in Lauderhill as arson after firefighters found furniture ablaze in the middle of a fourth-floor hallway.
Emergency crews responded to the blaze at the Cypress Grove apartments, located along the 4000 block of Northwest 19th Street, Friday morning.
“At 3:30 this morning, 911 center received multiple calls for an apartment building on fire,” said Lauderhill Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Jeff Levy. “Reports were that there was fire on the fourth floor.”
Residents ran out of their homes, some with no shoes on, as they grabbed their children, pets and whatever else they could carry in an attempt to escape the flames.
At least five Lauderhill Fire Rescue trucks were deployed, with residents waiting outside as fire crews investigated.
“When units arrived, thy had flames coming out of the fourth-floor window,” said Levy. “They quickly made entry to attack the fire. Once they got upstairs, they identified that there was an abundance of furniture on fire in the hallway of the fourth floor.”
Demetris Robinson, who lives two doors down from where the fire ignited, said he woke up to the smell of smoke at around 3:30 a.m.
“I ran outside on the balcony real quick to find that the building, the door two doors down from me, had a lot of smoke coming out of their window,” Robinson recalled.
Robinson said he acted quickly because he lives so close to that unit, and he lives with his younger brothers, and one of them has asthma.
“I tried to open that front door, and I could not get out of there, ’cause the hall was blacked out with smoke,” he said.
“Firefighters were quickly able to extinguish it and keep it from spreading to apartments,” said Levy. “There was extensive smoke damage throughout the third and fourth floors.”
Officials summoned a fire marshal to investigate the possibility of arson. As they waited for the fire marshal, firefighters examined the Q building, where the blaze began.
Investigators said this appears to be arson.
“There were no fires in the apartments, which was good. People were able to stay in their apartments, but there was an excessive amount of furniture on fire in the hallway,” said Levy. “It looks like it was intentionally set.”
Furniture like a mattress set on fire, according to officials.
“First of all, furniture shouldn’t be in the hallway. Secondly, furniture is just not going to start on fire by itself,” said Levy.
Though no injuries were reported, the American Red Cross was at the scene around 7 a.m. and aided the displaced fourth-floor residents. Everyone else who lives in the Q building was able to return to their units.
Tenants speculated that this incident was caused by a neighbor who went wild and lost their mind, but others believe this was done to draw attention to the lack of safety measures in the building.
Though these are mere assumptions, fire officials are still investigating who started the fire, as they attempt to determine the motive behind the blaze.
“The police department is going to do their thing as far as interviewing witnesses,” said Levy. “The state fire marshal and the Lauderhill Fire Marshal’s Office as well are going to do their investigations to try to determine the cause and pinpoint where the [fire] started, so the combination of the two will work to identify any suspects.”
If you have any information that could help detectives, call Lauderhill Police at 954-497-4700.
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