CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- Catina Williams is alive and well after escaping her blazing duplex Tuesday morning.

Shortly after 5:00 a.m. a city employee working on nearby sewer lines spotted flames at the Emma Wheeler Homes complex. He called for help while beating on the doors.

"They said it started in the attic somewhere and everything started smoking," Williams says. "By the time the fire started rising my family was out. My daughter woke us up in the middle of the night."

We are told the unit next to Williams caught fire, but no one lives there.

The question investigators are trying to answer is what caused the fire.

As the flames raged on a second fire unit worked to save Williams' apartment.

Chattanooga Fire Department spokesperson Bruce Garner says, "The other fire fighters went in the other side of the duplex and went into the attic and fought it from spreading."

Tuesday public works crews reseal hydrants as Williams sits on a neighbors steps with piles of what she could salvage. She says her teenage daughter was the first to alarm everyone the building was on fire.

Williams then saw the chaos and felt the heat of the flames. "We grabbed what we could to put on and ran for the door and when we got out saw the smoke everywhere."

She had been living here for three years after moving from Detroit and now will search for a new home.

She says it's a miracle she made it out of a situation she calls sheer terror. "It was the scariest moment of my life and I'm happy I made it out with my family and everyone is safe. It's not as bad as it looks."

She is being assisted by the Red Cross and investigators haven't said how the fire started.

The city employee was treated for smoke inhalation but is expected to make a full recovery.