UPDATE: Investigation continues into East Brainerd apartment fire
By WRCB Staff
The apartment building Friday morning after the fire. WRCBtv.com photo
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
UPDATE: A Chattanooga firefighter is a hero after the Thursday night fire at Hidden Creek Apartments on East Brainerd Road.
Vernon Lane, a Lieutenant with the Chattanooga Fire Department, lives in the apartment building where the fire started. He was able to safely exit the building.
Once Lane got outside, he spotted a woman and her baby on the third-floor balcony.
The woman dropped her 10-month-old baby boy to Lane, who caught the infant.
Before Lane could back up, the woman jump and landed atop Lane.
The injuries of the mother and child are still being assessed, but aren’t considered to be life-threatening.
Lane was was off-duty Bruce Garner, according to Chattanooga Fire Department spokesman.
PREVIOUS STORY: Chattanooga firefighters were still on the scene of a massive apartment fire on Friday morning, more than eight hours after it started. More than a dozen families were displaced.
The call came into dispatch around 10:30 Thursday night of a fire at Hidden Creek Apartments on East Brainerd Road.
When firefighters arrived they saw heavy smoke and flames coming from the building. A second alarm was sounded and 11 other companies responded. Officials believe wind played a major factor in the size of the blaze.
Chattanooga fire official Bruce Garner tells Channel 3 that a mother and her child jumped from the 3rd floor and received non-life threatening injuries. They were transported to a nearby hospital for examination and treatment.
Residents tell our crew the fire started on the 3rd floor of the 1200 building. Much of the building was destroyed, and firefighters were able to keep the blaze confined to the apartment building. Neighbors noticed the flames coming from the third floor of the apartment building.
"I said you know what, I don't know who's there, they might need help, so I just jumped in," said Albert Georgecutty.
Neighbors like Georgecutty even helped first responders get others out safely.
"Can I go knock on the doors because I will help you," he asked, "and he said go, just get everybody out of here."
Kristal Campbell and Josh Weller live on the second floor. They were getting ready for bed when they heard banging on their front door.
"Five, ten minutes later they were banging on our door telling us to get out there's a fire in the building," Campbell said, "Grabbed my dog, grabbed my purse and left."
Campbell says she didn't smell smoke or see any flames. Without her neighbors' help, she would have been inside even longer.
"You know making sure that everybody heard, which is good, I mean it probably saved a lot of lives," Campbell said.
Some people have renters insurance, others do not, but everyone here is thankful the fire did not serioulsy injure anyone.
Crews worked throughout the night putting out hot spots and speaking with witnesses to try and piece together exactly what happened. Hours before the fire apartment management had just sent a letter to residents warning there about the fire hazards of smoking. It is not known whether that caused this fire.
East Brainerd Road, which was closed for some time, has since re-opened.