Red Bank fire officials say combo of cigarette and oxygen sparke - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Red Bank fire officials say combo of cigarette and oxygen sparked apartment fire

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RED BANK, TN (WRCB) -

Dozens of people are without a home after a Red Bank apartment caught fire early Sunday morning. Red Bank fire officials say a man tried lighting a cigarette and forgot his oxygen concentrator was on.

It happened around 2 o'clock Sunday morning at the Ravenscroft Apartments off Midvale Avenue. It is the second time in just a few months tenants have been displaced because of fire.

"I think it's something that you never really think is going to happen to you," says Ravenscroft resident Harold Walters.

For Walters and others living at Ravenscroft Apartments, it is a bit of déjà vu. In July, the same building hit by Sunday's fire, went up in flames when someone left food on the stove. The damage was pretty much contained to one apartment then and no one was hurt. But this time around it was a different scenario.

"His exact words were, he got up to go to the bathroom. After going to the bathroom he came out, was going to have him a cigarette before he went back to bed in his recliner," says Red Bank Deputy Fire Chief  Brent Sylar.

Sylar says the man living in a bottom floor apartment forgot his oxygen concentrator was still on.

"Sat down in his recliner, thought he had it turned off and when he went to light his cigarette, he was encapsulated in a fireball in his lap," says Sylar.

He says the man's clothes caught fire and spread to the chair he was sitting in. His wife and granddaughter were able to help him out of the apartment and rushed him to a Chattanooga hospital. He has since been transferred to a burn center in Atlanta.

"I don't know how things are going, but he's in my prayers," says Walters.

Walters is staying in a hotel for now. This time around about 30 people are without a home.

"It involved more than just the inside of one apartment. It actually came outside the apartment and affected several apartments. The entire building's without power," says Sylar.

It will be condemned until further notice. Sylar says the challenge this time will be residents having to start over.

"Please, get renter's insurance," says Sylar. "Renter's insurance is a big thing. We've heard that out of 10 units, only one had renter's insurance."

Walters says even though his unit mostly has smoke damage, he is glad he has insurance.

"With the two experiences I've have had with fire, it seems like a small amount to pay for your protection," he says.

A resident told Channel 3 the building that caught fire did not have a working fire alarm. Chief Sylar says it was built in the 1970s and is grand-fathered in. At the time of the fire, the building was up to code.

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