Around 20 occupants were rescued by Chattanooga firefighters at the Rustic Village apartments at 510 Central Drive early Monday morning.
The first calls came in at 3:32 a.m. and when Squad 13 arrived, smoke was showing in the area. Due to the large number of residents who had to be rescued, Lt. Jason Greer called for a second alarm and six additional companies were dispatched. A total of 12 companies were on the scene.
The main part of the fire involved the steps and it blocked the exit way for most of the second-floor residents. Ground ladders were quickly set up by firefighters to access the residents on the second-floor balconies where many of the residents were forced to retreat due to the smoke. Fire was contained to the hallways and stairwell area. American Red Cross was called to the scene to assist with relocating the residents. Many of them will be out of their apartments until repairs can be made to the structure. There was also smoke damage in the hallways.
Hamilton County EMS treated at least one of the residents on the scene for breathing difficulties, but none was transported. In all 18 families were displaced.
Fire investigators were called to the scene and the cause is still under investigation.
The Fire Department always encourages residents to have two ways out of every occupancy. The ability of residents to retreat to the balcony prevented this from being worse.