KEY LARGO, Fla. (AP/WSVN) — Fire has damaged a new luxury, adults-only resort in the Florida Keys.
The pre-dawn fire on Sunday burned sections of the Bungalows, which had opened in December on Overseas Highway in Key Largo.
According to the Key Largo Volunteer Fire Department, the blaze ignited at around 5 a.m., Sunday.
Officials said the resort’s restaurant and upstairs section were torched.
“It’s a total loss,” said Key Largo Volunteer Fire Capt. David Garrieo. “The building was completely engulfed in flames.”
However, officials said, crews were able to contain the blaze to the resort’s main building.
Guillermo Onate said he was driving in the area for Uber when the blaze sparked.
“From the first blaze to a full fire, it took like five seconds,” Onate said. “It looked really, really bad from our point of view.”
He said he saw smoke first, then intense flames above the luxury resort, and then he saw guests run to safety.
“They were panicking,” Onate said. “You saw it in their eyes. They were afraid. All … everybody coming out from the rooms in their pajamas. They were taking people from the rooms by golf cart to the front desk. It’s not good for their business, no.”
Flames could be seen ripping through the structure and shooting through the roof. Cellphone video showed the blaze burning for hours.
“It was just a big ball of flames,” one witness said. “That’s all we could see. Just a massive amount of fire.”
Key Largo resident Mary Wilson, who lives next door to the Bungalows, said she woke up to see big flames engulfing the property.
“Our fear was — the first thing we ever thought of was there any loss of life?” she said. “Which would be a horrible thing.”
Fortunately, officials said, there were no injuries.
Valentina Gutierrez, who works in a bakery in front of the high-end resort, said she saw smoke while driving to work.
Gutierrez told 7News that people in Key Largo are surprised about the fire because the resort had opened a few months ago.
7Skyforce hovered above the scorched frame of the main building as firefighters put out hot spots, Sunday afternoon.
“It’s just horrible. I’m still not getting over it yet,” said Wilson. “Watching the smoke come out today, it’s still smoldering. It shouldn’t happen to anyone.”
Late Sunday afternoon, crews began clearing out of the scene.
The resort has 135 private bungalows situated throughout the 12-acre waterfront property.
A Monroe County Sheriff’s deputy could be seen parked at the entrance to restrict access to the resort, Monday afternoon.
Investigators could be seen Monday morning digging through debris and searching for clues as they investigate the fire.
Resort officials said they plan to reopen, however because they do not know the extent of the damage, they do not know when they will reopen.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.