Hundreds displaced by Patten Tower fire
People living in Patten Towers Apartments are without a home after a fire ignited, forcing an evacuation.
About a dozen fire and rescue crews rushed to the scene in downtown Chattanooga.
The basement of the eleven story, former hotel, filled with black, acrid smoke. Fire investigators say the intense flames shot the temperature up to 1,500 degrees.
People living in the Section 8 housing spilled onto Georgia Avenue. Power was shut off to the building to prevent the fire from re-igniting. Hundreds of people are displaced from the fire and are staying at emergency shelters.
"I mean it's a rough day. Real rough," resident Veronica Holiday said.
When the fire alarms first sounded, most residents say they didn't move.
"Well it goes off all the time so you really don't pay that much attention," resident Joyce Allmond said.
But, they soon realized that this time it's for real, when firefighters went door to door evacuating all 241 of them.
"When it got dark, everything was dark and black," Holiday said.
Many are disabled, elderly and low income with no place else to go.
"I've been homeless before and I don't want to be homeless again," resident Pearly Hockenhull said.
"I was scared when we didn't know where we were going," Holiday said.
They say were relieved when the Red Cross opened emergency shelters, first at the Brainerd Recreation Center, then when it overflowed, at East Brainerd Church of Christ. The Salvation Army is feeding them.
"Prayer was answered because I came over here and I had something to eat. I was hungry, tired and everything and I got help," Hockenhull said.
McKamey is taking care of their pets, like Joyce Allmond's Chihuahua, Precious.
"It's hard, but it's nice here," she said.
"We expect some of them to go home with family by the end of the day today so what we hope to do is be able to combine those two shelters into one very soon," Red Cross Regional Chief Development Officer Sandy Matheson said.
189 were still at the shelter by afternoon. If they don't have family pick them up, they'll be here for a few more days as crews work to restore power.
"We're preparing for a two to three day ordeal," Hamilton County Emergency Services Director Tony Reavley said.
"The main concerns of these residents, is they're needing their clothes, and their medications," Hamilton County Emergency Services Spokesperson Amy Maxwell said.
CARTA and Olivet Baptist Church are shuttling them back and forth to Patten Towers to pick up essential items, like oxygen tanks and medicine.
"This is a very vulnerable portion of our population of our community so we do pray for them," Salvation Army Spokesperson Kimberly George said.
There are between 50 and 75 volunteers there with the Red Cross and Salvation Army. They say they do need donations to keep this going.
You can donate to the Salvation Army and Red Cross.