UPDATE: Cause of Belvoir fire still unknown; at least $1 million in damages
EAST RIDGE, HAMILTON COUNTY (WRCB) -- While many of us are thinking about what we're most thankful for this week, 16 families in East Ridge have no place to call home.
Fire destroyed eight condos at Belvoir Hills Estates Friday night. Monday, investigators say it caused at least $1 million in damage.
Monday is the first time investigators were able to go inside the building.
They believe the fire started in Unit 65, and that's where they're focusing most of their attention.
Meanwhile, those who suffered the worst damage are prepared to be out of a home for at least a year.
"Everyone's devastated," says condo owner, Bettye Crabtree-Hill. "We're completely and totally devastated."
Hill was allowed inside her unit for a minute Monday, just enough time to stuff some her clothes in a garbage bag.
"I have a lot of smoke damage," she says. "I have a lot of white furniture that's not white anymore."
She is lucky. Aside from smoke and water damage, her home is intact. Still, she says the flashbacks to when the fire occurred are costing her sleep.
"Everyone had to get out," she says. "We weren't allowed to get anything, and this place was a total war zone."
"They were in there digging today," says Erik Hopkins, spokesperson for the East Ridge Police Department.
Hopkins says investigators focused their attention near Unit 65, because they believe that's where the fire began.
"Obviously the propane tanks fueled the fire," Hopkins says. "It's not known if that's what caused the fire."
Hopkins says when firefighters arrived Friday night, they saw flames shooting from a 100 pound propane tank. Using gas grills in condos, like the ones at Belvoir Hill Estates, is illegal in East Ridge.
Officials say several units have gas grills on the balconies behind the homes.
"A violation of a city ordinance is criminal in nature," Hopkins says. "Whether or not that comes down to a jail sentence is another story."
Even though Hill's apartment suffered less damage than others, she doesn't know when she'll be able to go home.
"I have asked the question and haven't gotten an answer," she says.
Insurance adjustors inspected Monday and will continue Tuesday.
Investigators say so far, the fire does not appear suspicious.