UPDATE: Chattanooga firefighters burned in house fire - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Chattanooga firefighters burned in house fire

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UPDATE: Firefighter Thomas Williams, one of the three firefighters injured in Monday's structure fire on 4th Avenue, is back home after receiving additional treatment for his burns at Vanderbilt Hospital's burn unit in Nashville. While his injuries were not life-threatening, the burns were severe enough that he will be off work for several weeks. Fire Chief Lamar Flint said all three firefighters will be placed on Administrative Leave, with 100% pay, while they recover from their injuries.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. The dollar loss was estimated at $60,000.


UPDATE:  One of the three Chattanooga firefighters injured in Monday morning's Fourth Avenue fire is now on the way to the burn unit at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville to receive follow-up care.

The other two firefighters were treated and released from Erlanger Medical Center earlier Monday.

The names of the firefighters are being withheld for now.


A fire in Chattanooga's East Lake neighborhood sent three firefighters to the hospital with burns.

It happened on Fourth Avenue around 11 a.m. Monday. Witnesses say it took only minutes for the flames to grow as they called for help.    

Fire investigators still aren't able to say what started the fire. The home is split up between a living space and small business, though officials haven't released what type of business.

Channel 3 talked to one neighbor who rushed to make sure no one was trapped inside. It turned out to be the firefighters who got hurt.

"You just panic and try to help like make sure everybody's safe," witness Yolunda Morer said.

As soon as neighbor Yolunda Morer heard the smoke alarm sounding across the street, she called 911.

"It was just smoke coming from the back but by the time the firemen and everything got here, flames were coming from the back," Morer said.

She frantically tried to see if anyone was trapped inside the Fourth Avenue home.

"I ran over there, started banging on doors and busting windows, but I was scared to go in with all the smoke," Morer said.

The smoke was getting thicker and spreading fast.

"Smoke went everywhere because smoke was all over my yard, around my house. I live right over there," neighbor Betty Jones said.

"I came up behind the Salvation Army over there and I saw smoke coming out off the back of that house I heard the alarm going off," witness Freddy Rogers said.

Within minutes, flames started to show and spread to the attic.

"When the firefighters arrived they saw quite a bit of flames toward the rear of the structure," Chattanooga Fire Department Spokesperson Bruce Garner said.

"They said for everybody to get back in case the windows blew out," Rogers said.

No one ended up being inside, but as firefighters searched, they experienced what's called a "flashover." That's when all of the combustible materials inside reach their ignition temperatures at the same time, like an explosion. Temperatures in the room jump to an extreme 1,000 degrees or more. Even firefighter's protective gear can fail.  

"In the process three firefighters did receive some burns to their head, neck and hands," Garner said.

This is Fire Prevention Week. The National Fire Prevention Association says cooking is the number one cause of fire. Again, the cause of this fire is still under investigation.

NFPA research shows an average of on in seven people die in home fires every day in the U.S. Around 70,000 firefighters were injured in their 2011 study.

READ MORE| UPDATE: House fire sends 3 firefighters to hospital.

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