MIAMI (WSVN) - An apartment complex in Miami is being demolished after it was engulfed in flames, prompting officials to swiftly make the decision due to safety concerns.

Just over a week ago crews battled the blaze for eight hours, making it Miami’s first 3-alarm fire in 25 years that displaced nearly 50 residents who called the Temple Courts complex home.

The demolition started at 7 a.m. on Tuesday. Officials arrived first at 431 Northwest Third Street to begin the initial efforts to bring down the building. The city says the building “poses an imminent risk of collapse”.

One woman told 7News that she had to come see the demolition herself because she’s struggling to grasp this new reality as her home is being reduced to rubble.

Soralla Marquez, who lived in the complex, said the stress is keeping her from eating and sleeping.

Another resident, Maria Antonieta Fernández, recalling the moment in Spanish. She said when the smoke started filling her apartment, she knew she had to get out, the only thing she was left with was the bag she’s carrying, but she couldn’t find her 2-year-old cat, ‘Titi’. The only thing she could do was open the doors and windows and pray the cat escaped, so now she’s back to look for her.

Fernández said what makes her so emotional is a mixture of sadness for what she’s lost and appreciation for surviving.

“They are not going back inside. It is considered unsafe because of a partial collapse inside and the hazardous materials contained inside the building,” said Kenia Fallat, Director of Communication for the City of Miami.

The historic building was constructed in the 1920s with a wood frame. Over the last week, the property management company paid for all the displaced residents to stay in a motel. However, neither the management nor city officials will allow any of them back into the building to retrieve their personal belongings.

“And I think that the only thing that I can tell them is that they’re alive and that’s what actually matters. And the Miami Fire Department did a heroic thing that day,they did everything possible to retrieve everyone from the balconies, they made sure to preserve life before anything else,” said Fallat.

Among the residents left without a trace of their lives is Eugenio Muñoz, who lived in apartment 317. The fire was a devastating blow to a man who wanted to change his life.

“I wanted to save $5,000 to fix my immigration papers. I saved $3,500, they said ‘Your apartment is on fire.’ I came back and I lost everything,” he said.

Francisco Murado, who once lived in apartment 314, said he still needs his belongings.

“I just wanted to go inside my apartment to recover some of my stuff. Jewelry, things. The furniture and the rest is lost. But I need my belongings,” he said.

Many residents shared the same fate as Muñoz and Murado.

The complex ignited last Monday when 73-year-old Juan Francisco Figueroa allegedly set it on fire, according to the police.

Figueroa was arrested and charged with intentionally starting the blaze and attempting to murder a maintenance man before he did it, police said. He remains behind bars without bond. The shooting victim’s family identified him as 30-year-old Feder-One Biotte, his family said he underwent surgery and the bullet was removed from his stomach.

On Tuesday morning, an excavator was seen on the Temple Courts property along with a handful of officials. The city has also brought out animal services to the area due to the number of cats roaming around, hopefully Fernández can be reunited her cat with Titi.

The demolition is expected to take place over the next four to six weeks.

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