Miami Beach apartment fire under investigation, 3 hospitalized

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - A woman is being questioned after an apartment fire broke out overnight in Miami Beach.

Miami Beach Fire Rescue believe arson set off the fire at the apartment building located at 3601 Collins Ave., at around 4 a.m., Friday.

According to officials, the fire started in an elevator shaft. Heavy smoke could be seen coming from the building.

“I saw a lady outside,” said resident Luis Hernandez. “She was doing some fire outside, but I ain’t pay no attention, so I went back to my apartment. I came back out to pick up my wife from work. When we came back, the building was on fire up to the roof.”

Fire rescue officials said they continue to investigate this possible case of arson. The woman was taken into custody on Friday.

“What we have is a female subject in our custody,” said Miami Beach Police officer Ernesto Rodriguez. “She’s currently being interviewed by detectives to determine her possible involvement in this.”

She was seen in the back of a police cruiser. “She was saying, ‘You’re all on the wrong side of God,'” said fire victim Mayra Borgman.

Rescue crews quickly responded to the scene and extinguished the fire. However, all residents in the 30-unit apartment building have been displaced.

“As soon as I saw the fire I called 911,” Hernandez said. “I tried to go upstairs, but I couldn’t breathe as soon as I walked in.”

Witnesses said there were people trapped in the building at the time of the fire.

“It just came billowing in my face, and I still can feel it in my lungs,” said fire victim Linda Bladholm. “I can’t remember going down the stairs, but I had to have taken them. Otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting here.”

Fire officials said one woman even jumped from the third floor of the building in an attempt to escape the flames. She was transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital in critical but stable condition.

“There were three people that were injured,” said Miami Beach Fire Department spokesperson Juan Mestas. “One of them, my understanding from units on the scene, jumped from the third floor, and we were able to rescue her. Actually, she jumped while we were trying to make the rescue.”

The two other victims were transported to Mount Sinai Medical Center to be treated for smoke inhalation.

The Red Cross is helping assist those that are displaced.

Residents fled from the burning building with only the clothes on their backs. A few were able to retrieve what is left of their belongings in the apartment building, Friday afternoon.

Those who lived in the building, like Hernandez, said they’re still in a sense of shock. “I just did what I could at the time and that was it,” Hernandez said. “It was a scary situation.”

Collins Avenue was shutdown northbound at 36th Street. However, it has since reopened.

No charges have been filed as of yet.

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