published Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Woman huffing gas caused fire at Mountain Brook Apartments in Hixson, report says

Chattanooga firefighters say the cause of a March 29 fire at Mountain Brook Apartments in Hixson was a woman "huffing" gasoline in a bathroom.

Firefighters had reported a "strong smell of gasoline" in the apartment where the fire started, according to a news release from the Chattanooga Fire Department.

Victoria Daniels, 24, who along with her husband was evicted after the fire, was arrested Wednesday at the HomeAway Extended Stay Studios on Northpoint Boulevard in Hixson.

When investigators approached her room Wednesday morning they could smell gas fumes, and after Daniels refused to answer the door, investigators entered through the window. In the motel room they discovered two one-gallon bleach containers full of gas.

Chattanooga police helped fire investigators transport Daniels for questioning. Shortly after investigators left with Daniels, motel employees discovered a diaper bag with two additional one-gallon jugs of gas, according to the release.

Investigators determined that whoever had been sniffing gas at the Mountain Brook Apartments had apparently used a cigarette lighter or struck a match, causing the room full of gas fumes to erupt in flames, according to the release. Firefighters contained that blaze to just the one apartment unit, and the dollar loss was estimated at $75,000. The two people in the apartment were unharmed.

Daniels never admitted to anything and refused to cooperate with investigators, according to the release. She was charged by Chattanooga's Fire Investigation Division with six counts of reckless endangerment as a result of the fire at Mountain Brooks Apartments and was transferred to the county jail for booking.

"Huffing" inhalants is how some drug users get high. It's frequently used by people who cannot obtain their drug of choice, said an employee at Chattanooga's Council for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services who asked not to be identified.

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