Five Injured in Florida High-Rise Fire

Five people, including a Hallandale Beach police officer, were taken to the hospital after an early-morning fire at the La Mer Condos located at 1880 South Ocean Drive.

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Residents, many of them elderly, had to be evacuated from the building. One man told NBC 6's Hetal Gandhi, that one of his biggest fears is news of a fire in a high-rise in the area -- a fear that was realized Friday morning.

Firefighters put out the fire, but traffic in the area was backed up on A1A as emergency vehicles were dispatched to the area.

The blaze happened in a third- floor unit of the east 17-story building of the La Mer complex. The complex holds three high-rises.

"The smoke was so much that we could not come out of the building," a resident of the condo who has a blind wife said. "The firefighters told us 'don't leave, the fire's next door.'"

One of the condo's residents, an elderly man, was taken to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood for treatment of possible smoke inhalation, firefighters said.

Three other residents of the building were taken for treatment of minor injuries, firefighters said.

"They said to get down the steps, not the elevator and we went out," Rita Kessleman, a resident, said. "I was thinking, 'I hope I will get out.'"

Firefighters said it took them 40 minutes to get the blaze under control and then extinguish it.

"When we have a major complex, a major condominium of this size, we certainly have tout units out here to assist in evacuation," Andrew Casper of the Hallandale Police said. "And also to assist us in the event that the fire might spread. This case it did not fortunately."

Investigators said they don't yet know what started the fire but it appeared to have started in the third- floor unit's kitchen.