CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) --Sara Terlecki's thankful that a Chattanooga Public Works crew, warned her to get out of her Brabson Hill apartment, before the smoke and flames drove her out.

"It's real reassuring to know that you were in a building that was on fire, and that you didn't even know it," she says. "Fortunately, I'm on the bottom (floor). I'm just hoping that it all gets put out before it takes over the entire building."

No need to worry. Shortly after her talk with Eyewitness News, firefighters would be all over 510 E. Fifth Street.

"Everybody that was in the apartment building did get out," CFD spokesman Bruce Garner says. "Several residents went door to door to wake up the others."

Among them, Caroline Kingsnorth, and her daughter Rebecca, 10, visiting from England as guests of resident Eric Clarkson.

"He didn't want to frighten us too much, we'd been traveling," Kingsnorth says. "We just grabbed our keys, put on some clothes and out the door."

Nine fire companies would join Tuesday morning's fight; including three ladder trucks.

"Apparently it started on top, in the deck area," Terlecki says.

Firefighters would find quick ways in, and up via windows and stairways near the building's front foyer. Their routes would lead them into a furnace.

"This is a pretty dramatic example of how hot it can get," Garner says, showing reporters a firefighter's helmet. The face shield has melted, although it's designed to withstand 1200-degree heat for at least 30 seconds.

The firefighter in question is uninjured. But Brabson Hill's roof would burn quickly; thanks to its tar coating and wooden deck.

Clarkson is optimistic.

"Looks like the fire department did a good job keeping it to the top, so I doubt we'll have any issues," he says.

Not so fast. Investigators are trying to determine how it started. They're checking the attic wiring and looking for water damage.

Terlecki and her neighbors wonder whether they may have to move for a while.

"I was crying earlier this morning," she says. "There's nothing, it's out of my control now."


CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) – Chattanooga firefighter have extinguished a fire at an apartment building Downtown.

Fire crews responded to a fire at the Brabson Hill Apartments, 510 East 5th Street, around 9:00 a.m.

Extra fire companies that were on their way to a training exercise at UTC saw the smoke and headed that way. Nine fire companies soon arrived on the scene to see flames shooting through the roof of the three-story apartment building.

According to the Chattanooga Police Department, the four story building had to be evacuated.

Chattanooga firefighters took hand-held hoselines inside to make an interior attack. Most of the fire was located in a small attic space, and on the roof. The first firefighters making their way into the attic said the flames were very intense.

The fire was so intense it melted the facemask of one of the responding firefighters. Those masks are designed to withstand temperatures of 1,200 degrees.

Fire officials say the blaze started on the roof of the complex. Most of the damage was contained to the roof and the attic.

No injuries were reported. The cause is still under investigation.

The fire is right next door to one that killed a woman in January.

Forty-two-year-old Valerie Myers lived in a house that's been converted into apartments.

Myers lived with her sister, who's deaf. She was awakened by a flashing smoke detector. 

Myers was found in a bathtub, and died from smoke inhalation.