Chattanooga firefighters endured sub-freezing temperatures at a two-alarm fire early Friday morning in East Brainerd. The Chattanooga Fire Department received the alarm at 3:22 a.m. and responded with six fire companies to Carriage Parc Apartments at 1346 Gunbarrel Road.
Battalion Chief Fredrick Blake said flames were shooting through the roof of Building 14 when the first firefighters arrived on the scene. Seeing the magnitude of the fire, Chief Blake called for a second alarm response, which brought extra chiefs and a total of 15 fire companies to battle the blaze.
Carriage Parc residents told Chattanooga firefighters that they woke to the sound of a fire alarm. As they left their apartments, they banged on doors to alert their neighbors. After conducting a primary search, Chief Blake said no one appeared to be in the building and all but one of the residents were accounted for. The one missing resident is believed to be out of town.
Chief Blake said the firefighters did an outstanding job under the circumstances. “This was a huge fire that was threatening to consume the entire building,” he said, “but our firefighters used everything they had to attack the fire and get it under control before it could do even more damage.”
Chief Blake said it was extremely cold and the water runoff from the hoses froze on the pavement, making it difficult for the firefighters to get around. With wet firefighter gear, it was very challenging for the firefighters to stay warm and avoid frostbite. The department’s mass casualty bus was brought in to serve as a temporary warm shelter for the firefighters. Aside from a few firefighters slipping and falling, no serious injuries were reported.
With one end of the three-story building gutted by the fire, the decision was made to bring in a track-hoe to tear down the walls that are still standing to reduce the hazards to the firefighters and residents of the complex. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
The American Red Cross of Southeast Tennessee was called in to help support the displaced residents. A total of 54 apartment units were affected, with 12 destroyed by the fire. It’s estimated that roughly 75 residents have been displaced by the fire. The Red Cross set up a shelter for those residents at the East Brainerd Church of Christ, at 7745 East Brainerd Road.
Chattanooga police, EPB, Hamilton County EMS and Chattanooga-Hamilton County Rescue also provided valuable assistance on the scene. And the Salvation Army was making plans to provide hot food and drinks for the firefighters, who are expected to remain on the scene for several more hours.