Chattanooga firefighters rushed to a fire at the Courts at Waterford at 6220 Shallowford Road around 2:30 p.m. on Thursday. The fire was located on the balcony of Apartment 390. Battalion Chief Jeff Eldridge said a woman inspecting the pool nearby spotted smoke coming from the balcony and called 911.
An employee with apartment management reportedly tried to put the fire out with a portable fire extinguisher, but Chief Eldridge said the man was driven back by the extinguisher powder and smoke from the fire. That individual was later transported by Hamilton County EMS to a local hospital for treatment of his exposure to the smoke.
Chief Eldridge said the flames had penetrated into the wall and was getting into a bedroom, but the firefighters carried in a handheld hoseline and quickly extinguished the fire. Firefighters had to open up some of the drywall in the bedroom to make sure the fire was out. The loss was estimated at $10,000.
The cause of the fire will be ruled accidental. Chief Eldridge said the two residents told him that they had discarded their cigarette butts in a glass jar, then emptied them into a plastic bag and placed it on the balcony. It is believed the cigarette butts smoldered and got hot enough in the bag to ignite and start the fire, spreading to the exterior siding on the balcony.
Chattanooga police, Hamilton County EMS and EPB all provided assistance.