PEMBROKE PINES, FLA. (WSVN) - Several families have been displaced after a deadly fire broke out twice among a row of townhouses in Pembroke Pines, and they believe the fires could have been avoided if their complaints had been taken seriously.
The fire first broke out at Westfield Townhomes along the 8000 block of Palm Tree Lane, at around 3 a.m., Tuesday.
Brooke McAfee not only lost everything she owns because of the blaze, she also lost her beloved cat.
“They came out with her body, and they just put her on the ground,” she said. “They wouldn’t let me see her, and it just sucks because I know I could have came in and saved her.”
McAfee said firefighters told her the cat would be OK when the first fire was put out. They were told to leave, but hours later, the flames reignited and spread to the neighboring homes.
“As soon as I pulled up, an explosion happened, and I would say I watched a fire jump from each house,” Amber San Angelo, who also lost everything in the blaze, said. “We’re young, and we work as hard as we can to afford something like this. It’s just rough. You come here, you move everything in, and it’s gone.”
Firefighters left the scene, but had to return soon after when they received calls that the flames had rekindled. A total of six townhomes were destroyed during Tuesday’s fires, and 18 people were left homeless.
Fire rescue crews and residents returned to the area on Wednesday, where they could be seen boarding up windows and doors. Just 24 hours earlier, the building was billowing with smoke and flames.
“The smoke was unbelievable, unbelievable,” said resident Dominic Treta, whose home was left waterlogged and destroyed.
Treta said he was sleeping when a loud bang woke him up the first time. His home was one of six that experienced fire, smoke or water damage that was bad enough to render his unit unsafe.
“I don’t expect to see much,” he said. “I don’t expect that, but the few things I got, I got to get, got to. Boy, this is not much fun at all without my house. It’s like my third leg, right? Really strange.”
Treta returned to his home of 40 years to see if he could do a quick search inside, but he had just missed the fire officials.
“They’re worried about me walking around and the roof coming in on me, you know,” he said.
Treta’s wife died several years ago, and he’s left alone and forced to start over again. He was adamant about getting back inside and grabbing whatever memory he had left of his wife.
“Everything of hers is still here,” Michelle Norton, who is helping Treta, said. “He was not able to part with a lot of things, so we’re going to try to get some of those things out of here, so that he has those things to hold onto.”
Treta was able to salvage his late wife’s jewelry and several photos.
However, some, like Glenn Theobold, whose daughter lost her home in the fire, wonder what could have been done to prevent the blaze from sparking and if fire crews should have remained on the scene.
“I want to find out if somebody made a mistake, somebody didn’t make a mistake,” he said. “These things happen, but it’s hard to say.”
Officials said two children who lived in the complex were taken to the hospital to be evaluated for smoke inhalation. At last check on Tuesday, they were in stable condition.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but residents said the fire was electrical in nature. They added they have had electrical issues in the past.
If you would like to donate to help the families affected by the blaze, click here to be redirected to their community’s GoFundMe page. They said the funds will be distributed evenly among the displaced residents.
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