Miami Beach Apartment Fire Ruled Accidental: Authorities

Dozens were still displaced Thursday morning after a Miami Beach fire that authorities ruled accidental.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Dozens were still displaced Thursday morning after a fire at the Mantell Plaza building at 255 West 24th St. in Miami Beach the previous night. Although authorities originally deemed the fire suspicious, it was ruled accidental Thursday. NBC 6's Bobby Brooks has the story. (Published Thursday, Aug 1, 2013)

    Residents were still displaced Thursday after a fire at the Mantell Plaza building at 255 West 24th St. in Miami Beach the previous night.

    Fire officials originally said the fire that started in apartment 302 was of a suspicious nature, but ruled it as accidental Thursday morning.

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    A dog that was found in the unit where the fire occurred was resuscitated, Miami Beach Fire Rescue spokesman Capt. Adonis Garcia said. No other injuries were reported.

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    The man who lived in apartment 302 said he felt bad for all of those affected.

    "It's a very upsetting time for me, for myself, my dog and also of course my feelings for all of the residents in the building, and all of those negatively affected," said the man who wished to remain anonymous.

    He couldn't say how the fire started, other than to say he saw smoke as he was moving his belongings out of the apartment – and got his dog out, as the sprinkler system drenched the place.

    Sprinklers set off by the smoky fire soaked units in the building and damaged the electrical system. Those conditions could have made staying there overnight dangerous.

    Tenants and tourists packed their bags in the aftermath, forced to find shelter from the Red Cross or elsewhere for at least one night.

    “It's a situation where we don't want the residents to be inconvenienced, so we'll work with them – get the building department to work with them – to expedite this as soon as possible,” said Charles Tier of the City of Miami Beach.

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    Many of those displaced took things in stride.

    “It's fine, you know? Maybe it (could) be a good experience,” neighbor Khaled Gashar said. “We go to a hotel. I have friends here.”

    Gashar said at least everyone made it out alive.

    "You have to look at it in a positive way," he said. "I'm glad we're alive and no one got hurt."

    Condo association board president Ray Breslin said an inspector was checking out the building early Thursday. He said the building had water damage from the third floor down, but hoped to get residents back in by the afternoon.

    They had not come back home by late Thursday afternoon, when the fire alarm system was still being repaired and the cleanup continued.

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