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Fire in Miami Beach High-Rise Kills Two Including Man Who Fell; 70 Hurt

May 24, 1996

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ A fire sent thick smoke billowing through a 15-story apartment building early today, killing two people, including a man who fell nine stories to his death.

Ten people from the building on the edge of Biscayne Bay were taken to the hospital, one in critical condition, police said. Sixty others were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation.

Witnesses said alarms at the South Beach apartment tower sounded about 6:30 this morning, sending residents into the streets.

``I heard some screaming. One boy was screaming `Please, please, help my father!‴ said Emma Deza, who lives in a building nearby.

Paola Ried, who lives on the 11th floor, said she ran down the fire escape after the alarm sounded.

``When we came out, one guy was hanging. I think he was trying to climb over to the other balcony,″ she said. Heavy smoke was coming out of the window.

Another witness, who wouldn’t give her name, said she saw the man fall.

``It was just a horrible experience _ seeing two people hanging and right in front of your eyes someone falls to his death,″ she said.

The man landed on a ledge above the ground floor and died there.

The second man on the balcony was rescued, but he died later at a hospital, Police Sgt. Howard Zeifman said.

Zeifman said the fire started in an apartment on the 10th floor, across the hall from the apartment whose occupants died. The men who died for some reason made the mistake of opening their door, he said.

It’s wasn’t immediately known how far the fire spread, but the smoke did spread to other floors. Firefighters evacuated several floors of the building, which is not equipped with fire sprinklers, Zeifman said.

The building is part of a two-tower complex, Morton Towers, facing the bay on the west side of Miami Beach.

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