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Two Chattanooga firemen displaced after East Brainerd apartment fire

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CFD's Antramell Butler and Lt. Vernon Lane (right) CFD's Antramell Butler and Lt. Vernon Lane (right)

Channel 3 has learned that two Chattanooga firemen lost their homes in the fire at Hidden Creek Apartments last week.

Both of them were off-duty, but still made their neighbors' safety their number one priority.

Antramell Butler, a maintenance worker for the Chattanooga Fire Department, didn't have time to grab any of his belongings before the apartment building went up in flames.

"The clothes on my back and my phone, that was it," Butler said.

As soon as he smelled smoke, Butler was going door-to-door alerting his neighbors.

"We got the people on our side out, then I rushed over to the next side to get those people out," he explained.

Butler is one of two Chattanooga firemen who lost their homes after helping others to safety. Lt. Vernon Lane caught a mother and baby who jumped from a burning third floor window.

Butler and Lane are used to helping put out fires, not falling victim to them. 

"You're regrouping, trying to get everything done, trying to figure out where you're moving," described Lane. "But I'm doing OK."

The firefighter of 15 years was able to break Bellnique Moon's third-floor fall when she landed on his back. Lane hopes doctors will let him come back to work next week.

He was able to escape his apartment with an armful of clothes.

"I just thank God for allowing me to get out in time," said Lane.

The Hidden Creek Apartment Complex started a donation drive for residents.

Employees tell Channel 3 that the community's response has been overwhelming. They ran out of storage room for donated items, and are now taking money and gift cards to give to displaced residents.

In the meantime, the Chattanooga Firefighter's Association, Local 820, is helping out two of their own.

"My brothers and sisters are stepping up, and looking out for me and Mel (Butler). They're giving us much love," Lane said.

While the sentimental items can't be replaced, and renter's insurance takes care of more expensive things, Butler emphasizes the loss of small day-to-day essentials.

 "A pillow, toothpaste, even the little rings that hold the shower curtain... You never think of what you have to get until you lose it all," he said.

Butler and Lane are working on finding new places to live. Until then, both firemen are staying with their families, who also live in town.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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