Puppies saved, but owners believe fire was avoidable - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Puppies saved, but owners believe house fire could have been prevented

Eight-week-old pit bull puppies Laquina,Tiger, Mink, Shrimpy and Lucky are all very lucky to be roaming freely in a motel courtyard.

Their mama, Precious, is back with their owners, Charlie and Tammy Smith, as they take stock of what's left their home at 4323 Shawhan Road.

"My mother called me, 'The house is on fire,'" Tammy Smith says. "I'm like, what? I'm running around, my house is on fire!"

"She was in panic mode," Charlie Smith says. I was trying to keep her on two wheels all the way home."

The fire call came in just after 4PM Tuesday. They knew their son, Charlie III, 10, was safe at grandma's.

"But three of the puppies were missing in action," Assistant Fire Marshal, Shellie Thorne, says.

"They were hiding under the bed," Charlie Smith says. "They found a safe place and hid there and nobody could get em out."

Chattanooga firefighters did. They knocked down the flames in about half an hour.

But the bedroom wing is gutted.

And gratitude has given way to frustration, now that investigators have confirmed where the fire started.

"It was electrical in nature," Lt. Thorne says. "A tree came down on the roof about a month ago, near the junction box. Without being electricians, that's where the fire started."

"I called EPB when it first happened," Tammy Smith says. "I wanted them to cut the line. They said they couldn't until an insurance adjuster came to the house, and we moved the limb."

A spokeswoman says EPB has no record that the Smiths ever called. But she also tells us that EPB's policy is to cut off service until downed trees are cleared, before crews repair the lines.

"We haven't heard from our insurance company yet," Charlie Smith says.

"We'll probably be at my mother's house," Tammy Smith says. "Who knows how long."

They're anxious to here what their insurance settlement will be, so that they can begin repairs.

"We're not moving," Charlie Smith says. "It's home, you know. God is good. He will get us through it."

Precious, and puppies, will be part of their 'extended family', at least for awhile.

"We started out with nine, and sold four," Tammy Smith says. "I'd have kept them all if I could. We haven't found homes for these (5) yet. So they're mine, until then."


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