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Fla. fire instructor’s son dies after fire at acquired structure training

The fire ignited at a vacant Virginia Gardens building that had been used for fire department drills for the past month

By David J. Neal, Douglas Hanks
Miami Herald

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. — A relative of a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue firefighter died Saturday after a fire that ignited during a Friday training exercise at a vacant Virginia Gardens building.

Fabian Camero, son of Francisco Camero, was 28 years old. A GoFundMe page has been set up for his funeral expenses.

Miami-Dade police announced Camero’s death, but not his name Saturday night. What happened Friday around 10:40 a.m. at 6596 NW 36th St. remains under investigation by Miami-Dade police homicide detectives, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue arson detectives and the Florida State Fire Marshal’s office.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said she was “deeply saddened” after learning about the tragic incident. She added the county is seeking answers to drill down what happened and how to prevent it moving forward.

“I have asked our Chief of Public Safety to lead a full investigation into the events that took place yesterday along with a comprehensive review of protocols and practices — to ensure we do everything possible to prevent an incident like this in the future, to keep our firefighters and first responders safe,” she said in the statement.

James Reyes, the Levine Cava deputy who oversees Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, said in a statement the county would review existing rules and practices for training after this exercise went wrong.

“We will work with the Fire Chief to also complete a comprehensive audit of protocols and practices to ensure no incident like this happens in the future,” said Reyes, a Democratic candidate for sheriff.

Among leaders speaking out on the matter, Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis reiterated via X that the man’s death is a terrible situation.

“I’ve been in touch with local officials and fire investigators from my office are en route to the scene to assist the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue with the fire investigation. Please join me in praying for those injured in this unfortunate incident,” Patronis added.

Miami-Dade Fire Chief Raied S. Jadallah sent a memo to staff Saturday that included, “I am fully committed to a transparent investigative process that will yield facts and answers as to why this incident took place.”

Training exercises carry the same risks as real fires and should be approached with even more caution

The four-story Virginia Gardens commercial building, county records say, was passed to 36th St. Storage LLC for “minimum consideration” in 2022 by A3M Investments. State records say both companies are managed by Alejandro Araujo out of a North Miami Beach office.

Spencer Deno, the mayor of Virginia Gardens, said he was briefed over the weekend by the county mayor’s office. That building, he said, has been used for more than a month now by the county for fire department drills. Those, though, never involved an actual fire, he said. Instead, they were limited to search-and-rescue simulations, including the use of canine search teams.

“The building owner didn’t give permission for a controlled burn,” Deno said. He described the deadly fire as accidental, and not part of the training exercise that day. He also said firefighters from Saudi Arabia were part of the exercise.

The three-alarm fire sent several fire rescue workers to a hospital and shut down Northwest 36th Street for hours.

©2024 Miami Herald.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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