During the peak of Hurricane Irma in South Florida, flames engulfed a home in Miami.
Antonio Gonzalez Sanchez said he was prepared for Irma with impact windows, food and water, but he was not prepared for a fire. Initially, Sanchez thought a tornado hit his house, but then he heard a huge explosion before his kitchen was up in flames.
"I remember just crawling through the smoke, getting out and then thinking ‘oh, my cat is inside I have to go back,’” Sanchez recalled.
He said his neighbors yelled at him not to go back inside.
It took firefighters several minutes to respond to the fire due to the deteriorating weather conditions. When help finally arrived, Sanchez feared his propane tank would explode. So, he ran back inside the home, grabbed the keys and shut off the tank.
"'Mostly, I risked it because next to me is a nursing home that houses five elderly ladies and I couldn’t live with myself knowing that that propane tank would blow up,” he explained.
The fire was put out and firefighters were able to rescue his pet cat. The kitchen sustained extensive damage and debris and soot spread throughout the home.
Sanchez and his partner plan to rebuild in the same neighborhood. Sanchez said he’s lived in his home for 20 years.
"I shared very special moments with my parents in this house. The fire can take those material things but my love for them and memories of them are here,” he said. “No one will be able to take that until I die."
Sanchez hopes insurance will take care of much of the damage. In the meantime, he’s getting help from the community.
"I just got a call from someone offering to provide new storm windows. And, we'll try to find somewhere he can stay," City of Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez said.