UPDATED 11PM

Lauren Brown
Eyewitness News Reporter

OOLTEWAH, TN (WRCB) -- The Tri-Community Fire Department kept an apartment building from burning to the ground.  Fire investigators believe started upstairs. 17 people were displaced and residents we spoke with are just thankful they got out before it was too late.

Judy Holdaway is among the 17 people without a home after flames ripped through her apartment complex Wednesday morning.  Her apartment is right below the one where the fire started.

"The apartment upstairs I think is totally destroyed and mine is totally water-logged. They said there was a lot of water in my apartment. I haven't seen it I don't know," said Holdaway.

Holdaway was home with her daughter Kelly when sparks ignited causing the blaze.

"It scared me so bad and when I heard that popping, it freaked me out," said Kelly Morrison, Holdaway's daughter.

Holdaway says she heard the fire alarm go off and she called maintenance to check it out.

"He got up there and opened the door black smoke come out," said Holdaway.

The complex was evacuated immediately and the Tri-Community Fire Department responded within minutes to put out the blaze.

Crews were able to prevent the fire spreading to other units but the damage was extensive.

The side of this building is completely charred and part of the second floor is gone.  Investigators say the fire started in the living and was accidental.  They are still looking into a cause.

"You gotta rule out everything, from ignitions to electrical to you know everything that could be involved. According to the renter, she said she had nothing on in the living room, she had no candles, burning, she hadn't been using any kind of electrical equipment or anything," said Amy Maxwell, Hamilton County EMS.

"Even though we're upset, it's still a blessing. Thank god," said Holdaway.

Many of the displaced families are staying at motels thanks to the Red Cross, others are staying with relatives. We're told there's about $100,000 worth of damage.

HAMILTON COUNTY (WRCB) -- Officials say the quick action of firefighters prevented a fire from leveling a Hamilton County apartment complex.

Members of the Tri-Community Volunteer Fire Department responded to the 10:30 am call Wednesday to the Spring Green Apartment Complex at 5075 Ooltewah-Ringgold Road. Firefighters found fire coming from the front window at apartment #405. Once firefighters found that everyone was out, they quickly attacked the fire and put it out, preventing the flames from working into the attic or firewall,

Investigators say the fire was accidental and started in the living room area. American Red Cross officials say eight families were left homeless and seven of those will be placed in motels. Damages are estimated at $100,000.