published Friday, January 24th, 2014

Huge blaze at Chattanooga apartment complex caused by cigarette butt

75 people displaced by fire

  • photo
    Firefighters spray a destroyed apartment block with water after an apartment which fire broke out at around 3:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 24, 2014, at the Carriage Parc apartments in Chattanooga, Tenn. About 75 people were displaced by the blaze, which destroyed 24 apartment units.
    Photo by Doug Strickland /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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An early morning fire at an East Brainerd apartment complex that put about 75 people out of their homes was accidental, authorities said.

The two--alarm blaze at Carriage Parc Apartments is believed to have started on the second floor of Building 14, in Apartment 1422, according to Lt. Henry McElvain with the Fire Investigation Division.

The apartment's resident told Lt. McElvain that she discovered the fire on her balcony shortly after 3 a.m. when she heard a loud noise. She said she grabbed a small portable fire extinguisher from the kitchen, but as she headed toward the balcony, the fire broke through the sliding glass door, a news release stated. She then went to her bedroom to get her dog, left her apartment and activated a fire alarm pull station. She said she banged on neighbor’s doors to alert them to the fire and grabbed a larger fire extinguisher from the hallway. But when she returned to her apartment, but smoke was just too intense, so she left the building with her dog.

 McElvain said an improperly discarded cigarette butt on the woman’s balcony was the likely cause of the fire. The woman said she discarded her cigarette butts in flower pots, the news release stated. McElvain believes a lit cigarette butt ignited a small fire in the flower pot, which spread to the wooden balcony and vinyl siding on the exterior wall of the building. The cause of the fire will be ruled accidental.

No injuries were reported, but several pets -- mostly cats -- were unaccounted for.

Of the 54 apartment units affected,  McElvain said 12 were destroyed by the fire. Another dozen units were damaged by smoke and water, and the rest had no electrical service since the power was disconnected to the building.

The American Red Cross of Southeast Tennessee is providing valuable assistance to the displaced residents by providing a temporary shelter at the East Brainerd Church of Christ.

An estimate on the dollar loss was unavailable. 

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