Police and fire fighters responded to one apartment fire in Miami Beach early Friday morning. They wound up dealing with two separate blazes — at least one of which is suspected to have been arson.
The fire that brought out the rescue crews was located inside an elevator shaft in the apartment lobby. It forced sleeping tenants out of their beds at 4 a.m. and led one woman to fall from her third-floor balcony after she attempted to use bed sheets to rappel to safety. She was transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center in critical but stable condition, police said.
Two others were treated for smoke inhalation and taken to Mount Sinai Medical Center.
After Miami Beach Fire Rescue extinguished the blaze, a witness told police that he had seen a homeless woman sparking a smaller fire just outside the building earlier on Friday. Police say Phyllis Carroll, a 60-year-old South Carolina native, later confessed to lighting the smaller fire but denied starting the larger one inside the elevator shaft.
She was booked into county jail at 6 p.m. Friday on a count of first-degree arson. Her bond was listed at $10,000.
Police said the smaller fire started outside the apartment caused smoke and thermal damage to the building's structure. The other blaze remains under investigation.
The incidents occurred at 3621 Collins Ave., a seven-story, 30-unit building, and caused road closures along a stretch of Collins Avenue northbound between 36th and 37th streets.