CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Eileen Himes was getting ready to visit the Tennessee Aquarium with her sister, so around noon, Tuesday, she walked out of the house to get her sunglasses from her car.
Just a few steps outside, she noticed a shed was on fire at the house next door. Ms. Himes and her sister Annie May Maguire banged on the doors of the house at 1603 Fernwood Circle, alerting the family of three that the fire in the shed was spreading to their house.
Penny Calhoun got her daughter, 3-year-old granddaughter and two pet dogs safely out of the house, and called 911.
The Chattanooga Fire Department initially responded with four fire companies. Firefighters said the fire had already spread from the shed to the house, quickly getting into the attic.
Chattanooga firefighters attacked the blaze from both inside and outside the house. It took roughly 30 minutes to get the blaze under control. The fire burned through the roof and caused extensive damage to the home. The dollar loss was estimated at around $80,000. The house next door sustained damage to the vinyl siding.
The cause of the fire is being ruled accidental. Fire Investigation Division said hot charcoal briquettes, probably used from a cook-out yesterday, had been disposed of in a plastic trash bag and placed next to the shed. Over a period of hours, the coals ignited a fire in the trash bag, which quickly spread to the shed and the house itself.
Improperly disposed charcoals have started a fair number of fires over the years. The fire department stresses that after a cook-out, it is very important that you thoroughly wet down the briquettes before leaving them unattended, and certainly before dumping them into a trash bag.