Hundreds evacuated after Miami Beach hotel fire

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Hundreds of people were evacuated from the Deauville Beach Resort in Miami Beach, Tuesday morning, due to an overnight electrical fire.

“Seeing everybody’s faces worried, it got me,” said hotel guest Alex Martinez.

Fire Rescue responded to the hotel, located along 67th Street and Collins Avenue, at around 2:30 a.m. Collins Avenue was shut down, but it has since reopened.

Officials said the automatic sprinkler system was able to put out the fire before rescue crews arrived, but heavy smoke lingered in and around the building. “We think it’s an electrical cord from an A/C unit that is being run right now for the hotel,” said Miami Beach Fire Rescue Capt. Jorge Linares. “But we’ll have inspectors come in … from the electrical department. The fire department is gonna come in and investigate.”

The problem they found was indeed some malfunctioning wiring connected to a chiller that led into the basement.

The equipment was rented to help keep the hotel cool. “The sprinkler put it out,” said Linares, “so when we got here there was a lot of smoke. We cleared out the smoke and turned off power to the building.”

City officials said the hotel had just been slapped with a violation last Wednesday for installing the chiller without a permit. They were told to stop using it until they got approval. However, 7News was told they never did.

7News spoke with some of the hotel’s guests, who said they were woken up by a fire alarm in the middle of the night.

“We were on the 16th floor, so we had to go down like 16 flights of stairs to get out here,” said one guest, Virginia Montero, “and I thought it was like a false alarm at first, but then when we got to the bottom it was super smokey, and we were coughing a lot, and we’ve been out here for like two-and-a-half hours now, three hours.”

The guests from the hotel actually had to stay in the pool area after they were evacuated from the hotel.

The Red Cross showed up to assist and bring supplies to the hotel guests.

“We had to run with whatever we had on,” said Marquel Dorsey, another hotel guest, “just run down the steps.”

It took about three hours for the hotel to start letting people back in to gather their belongings.

Evacuated guests were eventually moved to nearby hotels.

Melissa Meruelo, the hotel’s general manager, said, “It’s been close to 800 people that we had to relocate. We own another property on 51st and Collins and one on Sixth, so that’s our first goto, is seeing what rooms they have available, and then we talked to the hotels around us.”

Officials had to wait for the smoke to clear before having Florida Power and Light go in to the hotel and have the power completely shut off. “It’ll probably be a couple of weeks before this building gets back up and running,” said Linares.

Miami Beach Police and Fire Rescue remain on the scene.

No injuries have been reported as a result of this fire.

City officials said engineers will have to examine the hotel and make sure the needed repairs are made before the hotel management can allow guests to return.

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