A fire early Friday inside a Fort Lauderdale apartment left a 93-year-old man dead, officials said.
Fire rescue crews responded to the Ocean Summit condominium apartments, located at 4010 Galt Ocean Drive, around 1 a.m. after reports of a fire inside one unit.
Police identified the victim as Howard Perkins, who died in a unit on the 9th floor. His roommate, a man in his 50s, suffered minor injuries.
"I went out to the hallway to go down to the elevators, and I could not even see down the hallway," Keith Rush recalled. "I mean the whole hallway was full of smoke."
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Rush believes a lamp fell over and a hot bulb started the fire.
"I think the lamp that has a dimmer switch adjustable, I think that fell down on him in the chair because I was told he was in the chair," Rush said.
The fire was later ruled as accidental, Fort Lauderdale Police said.
The fire didn't spread to other units, but some building residents were briefly evacuated, officials said.
"I could do what I did, I wish I could have done more," said Rosalie Williams, who was at the front desk when the fire happened. She banged on the door, but nobody answered. "Thank God the fire was only contained to that apartment, it did not do more damage."
The unit where the fire started didn't have a sprinkler system, officials said. Many high rises in South Florida were built before sprinkler systems were required, and state law mandates those systems be installed in certain buildings starting in 2024.
Fort Lauderdale Fire Marshal Jeff Lucas said the quality of furniture involved in fires is also a factor.
"The furniture you buy today will burn and cause flashover in about one or two minutes, whereas the legacy furniture will probably burn and cause flashover in the unit in about eight to nine minutes," Lucas said. "So we’re looking at the difference now of the contents of the unit compared to the structure."