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Friday, September 29, 2023

Fire at 109 Tower Causes Evacuation of Building

Sweetwater, FL – Early Tuesday morning, at approximately 5 A.M., residents of 109 Tower awoke to local police and Miami-Dade Fire personnel as they evacuated the building due to a small fire on the 10th floor.

Floor by floor, FIU students living at 109 Tower exited the housing facility and waited all morning outside of the main entrance on 109 avenue for updates from emergency personnel. Fire damage was contained to the unit where the fire occurred on the 10th floor.

Although emergency crews frantically evacuated students at approximately 5 A.M., the fire was reported by students to have begun hours earlier, with fire alarms going off at least 4 hours earlier at around 1 A.M. The small grease fire, a result of late-night cooking by an unknown FIU student, caused smoke to quickly fill the 10th floor, activating the automatic sprinkler system to flood much of the 10th floor, with one student reporting as much as 4 inches of water covering the floor. The fire alarm turned off after a short time and many students throughout the building reportedly went back to sleep. Some of the floors did not hear an alarm at all.

Management Failure?

109 Tower residents expressed frustration at how 109 Tower management handled the situation. The slow response times, confusion, lack of information, shoddy emergency preparedness by building management and close proximity to FIU Finals Week caused caused some residents to express frustration at the situation, with some using social media to vent.

109 Tower replied, ignoring the complaint about students being displaced:


FIU Officials Respond

Later in the morning, school officials including Dr. Rosenberg made a public appearance outside of 109 Tower to express support and solidarity to the students affected by the fire.

Restrictions Lifted

Throughout Tuesday, FIU and Sweetwater Police restricted public access into the building, allowing only residents to retrieve essential items. The restrictions forced residents to seek temporary shelter with family or friends, some residents stayed with friends at the newly build 4th Street Commons.

At about 9 P.M. Tuesday night, 109 Tower officially announced the lifting of restrictions via Twitter:

There were no injuries reported.

About 109 Tower

109 Tower is a privately-owned 15-story housing facility with 542 units, exclusively available for college students. It is located on 737 S.W. 109 Avenue in Sweetwater, FL.

Built in 2013 by Sweetwater Properties, a company owned by local developer Ricardo Vadia109 Tower was purchased by Education Realty Trust Inc (EdR) for $43.5 Million.

A furnished bedroom in 109 Tower
Furnished bedroom within 109 Tower. Photo Credit: 109tower.com

EdR charges each student between $785 to $890 per month for a bedroom and bathroom within a two-bedroom or a four-bedroom layout.

The building’s management is mainly made up of residents and FIU students, similar to Resident Advisers at traditional college dorms.

According to their website, EdR is a publicly-traded real estate investment trust one of the largest owners of collegiate housing in the United States.

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