The lead fire investigator for Thursday's 2-alarm apartment fire at The Arbors at Signal Mountain at 751 Runyan Dr. has ruled the cause of the fire as accidental. The investigator said the fire started on the balcony of Apartment 103 on the second floor, most likely from improperly discarded cigarette butts.
At 5:19 p.m., firefighters were dispatched to the blaze.
Fire Station 17 on Signal Mountain Road is located a short distance away, and, when the firefighters got into their fire truck and drove out of the bay, they could see significant smoke and flames coming from Building 1 in the apartment complex. Captain Troy Milsaps with Quint 17 immediately called for a second alarm response to bring in an additional six fire companies.
Battalion Chief Carlos Hampton, the incident commander, said the firefighters located the fire on the second floor of the three-story building and took in hand-held hoselines. After making a primary search and finding no one inside, they worked to get the blaze under control. As firefighters set up two aerials to begin spraying water from above, additional firefighters took in hoselines to the third floor and attic.
Chief Hampton said the firefighters did an outstanding job of containing the fire mainly to three apartment units. Two or three other units had some smoke and water damage. Chief Hampton said the building had a good fire wall, which assisted the firefighters in containing and extinguishing the bulk of the fire in about 15 minutes. Fortunately, all of the residents got out safely and no injuries were reported.
An estimate on the dollar loss was not available, but the building has a grand total of 18 apartment units, most of which were spared any fire damage. With the wiring damaged by the fire, power had to be disconnected from all 18 apartment units. Volunteers with the American Red Cross were called in to provide assistance to the fire victims displaced by the fire. Chief Hampton said that if EPB technicians could not restore power to the undamaged units, then the residents in all 18 apartment units will have to stay elsewhere tonight.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. Chattanooga Police and Hamilton County EMS also provided valuable assistance on the scene.