East Ridge fire victim forced to start from scratch
Story by Megan Boatwright
Eyewitness News Reporter
EAST RIDGE, TN. (WRCB)-- Investigators say wiring is to blame for a fire that left dozens of families without a home.
Flames nearly destroyed a storage area, before it spread to a three story breezeway, forcing officials to condemn a portion of Ridge Terrace Apartments.
Eyewitness News revisited the complex Monday as residents returned.
Thirteen families are looking for a new place to live, many will move into vacant units in the same complex.
Insurance adjustors were on site to assess the damage.
The building structure isn't the problem, it's the damaged wiring.
"I spent so much time here, I really like my apartment," says Qualeka Alqadri.
After five years, it's time for Qualeka Alqadri to move out.
Apartment 39 suffered the most severe water and smoke damage from a blaze that ignited in a storage area below the building Saturday.
"Everything is pretty bad. Everything is ruined. All my clothes, all my furniture, everything that I have is ruined," says Alqadri.
The mother first smelled smoke in her closet, and then opened her front door to find billowing black clouds in the breezeway.
"I ran out of the house with just what I had on my back and that was just a t-shirt," says Alqadri.
The building met fire code requirements when it was built in 1974. It has fireproof walls and working smoke detectors inside the units, but no automatic alarm system outside.
Still, with no sounding alarm, 40 families, including Alqadri and her 4-year-old daughter Azariah, managed to get out safely.
"No power, no water and the fire department had the door open," says Stacey Sharpley, resident.
Some units will only require a day or two of clean up. But for the 13 families living in the now condemned portion of building, moving is the only option.
"I just got to start over from scratch and just take the help that people are giving me," says Alqadri.
Alqadri will move to a new apartment Monday night, but with no renters insurance, it will take to time to turn her new house into a home.
"It's getting better, you know, it could have been worse, could have been better, you know, but I'm just picking up the pieces," says Alqadri.
Residents of those 13 units have the option to move to vacant apartments, or move out. If they choose to move out, property managers tell me they will be refunded.
The complex will also be required to install an updated fire alarm system, and go through a re-inspection by the city before a new certificate of occupancy can be issued.