Authorities are investigating the cause of a fire that ripped through an apartment building in Hollywood early Tuesday and left three families without homes just hours into the new year.
The fire broke out shortly before 3 a.m. at the building at 1726 Thomas Street, Hollywood Fire Rescue spokesman Joel Medina said.
According to Medina, a woman who lives at the building was outside smoking a cigarette when she smelled smoke coming from a unit.
Fire crews responded and extinguished the flames but not before three units were completely destroyed, Medina said.
The woman who smelled the fire was taken to Memorial Regional Hospital for smoke inhalation and later released. The Red Cross is assisting her and the other two families with finding a place to stay, Medina said.
The woman, Lani Medina, said she lost everything she owned in the fire but said she was lucky she and her husband got out alive.
"The fireman said I'm very lucky I was outside and that's all, I'm gonna be grateful and count my blessings and love my family and hug 'em a lot tighter," she said. "I lost everything, I have the clothes on my back, I lost my purse, my medications, my mom's jewelry, I lost everything, there's nothing left but it's a good year because I have my life."
She also said a African Gray parrot, which was worth about $3,000 and belonged to one of the building's owners, was lost in the fire.
No one else was injured and the cause of the fire is under investigation.