Families displaced after NE Miami-Dade apartment fire

NORTHEAST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Firefighters responded to a raging three-alarm fire at an apartment building in Northeast Miami-Dade, Wednesday afternoon.

Dozens of families are now without a home for the holidays after the fire engulfed the roof of the two-story 24-unit apartment building, located at Northeast 189th Street and Second Avenue, at around 1:25 p.m.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue remained on the scene throughout the evening.

7Skyforce HD flew over the scene as firefighters successfully put the flames out.

Sources told 7News that there were people inside the building at the time of the fire and residents were able to run from the fire.

“So I came outside, and I saw smoke coming from the apartment like two doors down from me, and so then I shouted, ‘Help! Help! Fire! Fire!’ and then I call 911,” said resident Sylvia Francois, who escaped the fire.

“When we came, we were walking by, the smoke and the flames were up, but nobody was coming out of their apartment. Looked like nobody knew that the building was on fire, so we went knocking on the doors,” said James Peterson, who helped evacuate the building.

Many residents are now displaced.

“You can’t have no holiday,” said Johnnie May, who lives in the building. “Where’s the holiday without nowhere to stay?”

“You can imagine, you lost everything in one second. Like you work for like 20 years,” said Julie Jospeh, whose cousin lives in the apartment building.

The American Red Cross transported several families as they figure out where they’re going to stay.

“All the residents of this apartment building have been evacuated. The Red Cross has been called,” said a MDFR spokesperson. “There have been no injuries, and right now, down the street, we actually have a transit bus that is taking the residents in in order to process them with the Red Cross.”

“I’m devastated, you know what I mean?” said resident Brandon Brown, who was forced out by the fire. “I’m just trying to process it in a mature manner because me freaking out won’t do any good, but I’m very pissed.”

Brown and his mother will stay at a shelter since their apartment suffered major water damage.

For other residents, the flames caused major destruction.

Christine Tundidor and her husband live next door to where the fire started. A firefighter broke the news to them that they lost everything.

“He said my place is totally gone,” said Tundidor. “Did my Christmas shopping early this year, for the first time I was able to do that — that’s all gone. How do I tell my granddaughter that?”

The couple is grateful to be alive but, like their neighbors, are struggling with their next step.

“It’s not fair. I work hard and we’re good people,” said Tundidor. “It’s just not fair.”

The couple will be staying with family.

“We have life, and God is good. In spite of it all, no one was hurt,” said Francois. “We are here, and where there’s life, there’s hope, so we continue to trust God, and He will come through for us.”

Officials said most of the fire was contained to the attic portion of the building.

“It was one unit and, unfortunately, it caught up into the attic space. So if you guys can see, it’s a common roof that everybody shares, and once the fire gets up there, it starts to travel,” said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Lt. Felipe Lay.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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