A Chattanooga woman was arrested on Wednesday in connection with a fire on March 29 at the Mountain Brook Apartments.
Captain Craig Haney with Quint 17 said he and other firefighters noticed the strong smell of gasoline in the apartment where the fire occurred. Captain Anthony Moore with the Fire Investigation Division was called in to investigate. Captain Moore said there was evidence that one of the two occupants had been sniffing, or “huffing” gasoline in the apartment’s bathroom.
Details are being obtained at this point, but the person sniffing the gas apparently used a cigarette lighter or lit a match in the bathroom. With the room full of gas fumes, a fire erupted. Miraculously, the two occupants in the apartment were not injured. Chattanooga firefighters responded quickly and were able to contain the blaze to just one apartment unit. The loss was estimated at $75,000.
The investigation led to today’s arrest of Victoria Daniels, 24. Captain Moore said that after the fire on March 29, Ms. Daniels and her husband were evicted from Mountain Brook Apartments and were staying at the HomeAway Extended Stay Studios on Northpoint Boulevard in Hixson.
As Captain Moore and fellow investigator Henry McElvain approached the room Wednesday morning, they could smell gas. Ms. Daniels refused to answer the door, so the investigators entered through a window and apprehended her. While inside, they found two one-gallon bleach containers full of gas inside the motel room.
With the assistance of Chattanooga police, the fire investigators transported Ms. Daniels to the Fire Administration Building for questioning. Not long after they left with the suspect, Extended Stay motel employees found a diaper bag that contained two one-gallon jugs of gas.
Captain Moore said Ms. Daniels never admitted to anything and refused to cooperate with the investigation. Around noon on Wednesday, Captain Moore charged Ms. Daniels with six counts of reckless endangerment. That charge stems from the danger the other residents were exposed to when Ms. Daniels’ gas sniffing led to the fire at Mountain Brooks Apartments.
Chattanooga police transported Ms. Daniels to the county jail for booking.
Officials said, "Apparently, sniffing gas is another way to get a cheap “high,” though the practice is fraught with danger. It’s not only extremely dangerous to the user’s health; the gas presents the very real danger of a fire or explosion."
The investigation related to this incident is ongoing.