An electrical fire at the Deauville Beach Resort in Miami Beach early Tuesday morning forced guests to evacuate and relocate to different hotels, authorities said.
Miami Beach Fire and police officers were called to the oceanfront hotel at 6701 Collins Ave around 2:20 a.m., after malfunctioning wiring in a temporary unit brought in to supplement the building’s AC caught fire, said Miami Beach Fire spokesman Capt. Jorge Linares.
The fire activated a sprinkler in the electrical room, and only the wiring and the electrical room were damaged, Linares said. No smoke or fire got into the guest areas or rooms.
But about 150 people in the building were told to leave after the fire, and Linares said a firefighter was stationed on each floor “to make sure nobody stays.”
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Guests had been initially evacuated from the building after the fire broke out, and Danish tourist Sule Tamer Öksüm said that it wasn’t clear at first what had happened.
“When we got down the stairs, there was a lot of people screaming and yelling,” she said outside the hotel later that morning. “We actually thought it wasn’t smoke but something else, and I was very, very scared.”
“We thought it was a war zone,” added Ramazan Öksüm, 28. One man was running back and forth “like someone was shooting or something.”
Guests were being escorted back in and out of the building Tuesday morning with their bags and being relocated to nearby hotels so experts could examine the building’s electrical system and determine what repairs needed to be made, Linares said.
“They’re tired, they’re sweaty and they’re ready to get out of here,” he added.
Linares said he expected the evacuation would be complete by early afternoon and then the investigation would begin.
Florida Power and Light crews were also at the hotel, which remained without power Tuesday morning. FPL account supervisor Irene Delgado said that crews had found a problem with the customer’s equipment at the address and that it was not an FPL malfunction. Red Cross volunteers also headed to the hotel Tuesday morning to provide canteen services for affected guests, the organization’s South Florida chapter said.
It was unclear Tuesday morning how extensive repairs to the electrical system would be, or when the hotel, best known for hosting the Beatles in 1964, would reopen.
“It might take a couple days or it might take a couple weeks,” Linares said. “It depends on how bad everything is.”
The Öksüms said Tuesday morning that they planned to find a new hotel for the remainder of their stay. After that, Ramazan Öksüm said, “we will maybe enjoy the rest of our time.”
Miami Herald staffer Carl Juste contributed to this report.