Florida Firefighters, Resident Hurt at Fire

About 20 residents are displaced.


LAUDERHILL, Fla. --

An overnight apartment fire in Lauderhill sent a firefighter and a resident to the hospital.

The blaze broke out at 1:20 a.m. Tuesday at 1521 NW 43rd Ave.

Investigators said a 46-year-old man in unit 202 was making some arts and crafts early Tuesday morning. He was apparently burning the end of a twine with a match when the match fell on his mattress.

Instead of calling 911 right away, he tried to extinguish the fire himself. The blaze quickly engulfed his apartment. The resident made it out of the apartment but had to be taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation.

Neighbors smelled smoke, heard glass breaking and called for help.

I opened the front door and I looked out and I saw a big smoke, said resident Stervel Thompson.

Most of the people who live in the 16-unit building are 55 and older, creating another challenge for firefighters.

Anytime you are dealing with 55-and-older residents, your main concern is medical needs, assistance with maneuverability, getting people out of their apartment," said Lauderhill fire-rescue Lt. Jeff Levy.

Levy said two firefighters received minor injuries fighting the blaze, suffering from heat exhaustion. One firefighter had to be taken to the hospital.

About 20 residents are displaced. For those who do not have family or friends in the area, the Red Cross will help with temporary housing.

Only one apartment was destroyed, but several others have heavy smoke and water damage.

The apartment building is an older structure and not required by law to have sprinklers. Also, the fire alarm was in the process of being installed and did not work.