Fire Which Left Family Homeless Is Ruled Accidental

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The cause of Sunday’s early morning fire at 1712 Rubio Street has been ruled accidental. Captain Carlos Hampton with Engine 4 said the fire was most likely started by food being left unattended on the stove. Fortunately, no one was injured.

It was a close call for a woman and her three children early Sunday morning when fire raced through their home.

The Chattanooga Fire Department received the alarm shortly after 4 a.m. and responded with several fire companies.

Captain Carlos Hampton with Engine 4 said Destiny Shepherd woke to the smell of smoke, so she woke up her boyfriend and cousin.

As she was trying to get everyone out of the house, Ms Shepherd noticed that neither her boyfriend or cousin grabbed any of her three children. So, she ran back into the house, while the two men stood outside and watched. Captain Hampton said Ms. Shepherd grabbed her three children, everyone's wallets, a diaper bag and a bottle for the baby. Fortunately, she did all of this and was lucky enough not to be injured or killed.

As additional fire companies began to arrive, Captain Hampton said flames were shooting out the windows on at least two sides of the house. The first firefighters who attempted to enter the structure were forced back by the intense heat. Captain Hampton believes they experienced a "flashover." After getting the fire suppressed from the outside, the firefighters were able to enter the house, getting the fire under control in 30 to 45 minutes.

The loss was estimated at around $30,000. Volunteers with the American Red Cross were called to the scene to provide assistance to the family, including help with a temporary place to stay, and help with food, clothing, and medicine if needed. 

Chattanooga police, Hamilton County EMS and EPB also provided valuable assistance on the scene.

Bruce Garner, fire department spokesman, said, "A flashover is the near-simultaneous ignition of most of the directly exposed combustible material in an enclosed area. The room bursts into flames and often has the effect of looking like an explosion. Firefighters die in flashovers every year."


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