Fire At Old St. George Hotel Believed Started By Someone Inside

Wednesday, May 5, 2004
A Chattanooga firefighter heads back up the ladder to help other firefighters on the fourth floor. Click to enlarge.
A Chattanooga firefighter heads back up the ladder to help other firefighters on the fourth floor. Click to enlarge.
- photo by Bruce Garner

Chattanooga fire investigators have determined that last night's fire at
the old St. George's Hotel at 1434 Market St. was most likely started by a person, or more than one person, authorities said.

Bruce Garner, fire department spokesman, said, "This is based on eyewitness information and other evidence obtained at the scene.

"However, the investigators have
not determined how the individuals were involved, who they are, or what
their intent was. The cause of the fire will remain undetermined and under investigation.""

The fire did extensive damage to the old hotel across from the Chattanooga Choo Choo on Wednesday night.

No injuries were reported in connection with the fire in downtown Chattanooga.

The fire was in a vacant, four-story building in the 1400 block of
Market St. A couple of people working nearby told firefighters that they heard a noise that sounded like a door slamming, and a few minutes later smoke began to appear. That's when they called 9-1-1.

The Chattanooga Fire Department responded to the alarm with several engine companies. When the first arriving firefighters saw smoke and flames on the fourth floor, Battalion Chief Thaddeus Morton called for a second alarm response to bring in additional firefighters and equipment.

The firefighters on the scene raised at least two ladders on the Quints, and made entry on the fourth floor from the ladders. From there they took in hand-held hoselines to make an interior attack on the fire. It took the firefighters roughly 20 minutes to get the fire under control.

Chief Morton said the firefighters did an excellent job of containing the fire to the fourth floor.

"At one point, the fire was spreading very quickly," said Chief Morton, "but these firefighters thought outside the box and got a handle on it before it got out of control."

Most of the firefighters who arrived on the second alarm remained on standby, and were eventually sent back to their stations. No injuries were reported.

There is no electrical service to the building, which has been vacant for an extended period of time. The building is for sale.

Chattanooga Police, Hamilton County
EMS and Chattanooga-Hamilton County Rescue provided assistance on the scene.

Battalion Chief Thaddeus Morton coordinates activities on his radio with firefighters on the fourth floor.
Battalion Chief Thaddeus Morton coordinates activities on his radio with firefighters on the fourth floor.
- Photo2 by Bruce Garner

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