High-rise fire kills 80-year-old man, forces 100 residents out of homes [3-15-18]
Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
By Doug Phillips, Amy Beth Bennett and Linda Trischitta
Published March 15, 2018
As fire alarms rang through a 15-story condo tower in Pompano Beach, Amber Webb grabbed her young nephew and joined a rush of residents escaping — while others waited for help on their balconies.
“She left her apartment and shut the door, which was a very important move because the door was fireproof and helped contain the fire,” King said. The woman was not harmed, but the fire destroyed her apartment and quickly sent heavy smoke down the hall and into other units.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. The alarm at 1:12 a.m. drew firefighters from northern Broward County south to Pembroke Pines, about 50 trucks and ambulances in all, to fight a stubborn blaze that fought back for 2.5 hours, King said.
Firetrucks were faced with flames ripping through a unit on the seventh floor of the complex at 1505 N. Riverside Drive, said Pompano Beach Assistant Fire Chief Michael Hohl.
Fire crews advanced to the seventh floor but couldn’t get down the hallway because of the heat, Hohl said.
Decals on firefighters’ helmets melted in the hot air, King said.
Damage to the condominium would have been less significant, Hohl said, if there had been fire sprinklers in the building. It was built before Florida regulations required high rises to have sprinklers, but to comply with later state laws they must be installed in December 2019, King said.
“I do know that our fire marshal was working personally with this building and the management of this building,” she said. “This is a perfect example of how important it is to get these buildings up to code.”
The American Red Cross provided temporary housing for 49 people who were unable to rely on family members or friends. The Pompano Beach Women’s Club was housing about 25 people Tuesday and for the next two nights, King said.
“We were eventually able to put a ladder pipe up and knock the fire down from the outside,” Hohl said. Firefighters then moved hose lines in where they were able to rescue people trapped on balconies.
Three people who took refuge on balconies and four other residents were taken to hospitals to be treated for smoke inhalation. By 9 a.m., all but one of them had been released, King said.