UPDATE: Historic Southside building burns, cause under investiga - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Historic Southside building burns, cause under investigation

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Photo by WRCB viewers Thomas & Ashleigh Massingill. Photo by WRCB viewers Thomas & Ashleigh Massingill.
Photo by WRCB viewer Katie Clark. Photo by WRCB viewer Katie Clark.
Photo by WRCB viewer Robyn Weyenberg. Photo by WRCB viewer Robyn Weyenberg.
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: Officials say the dollar loss from the 3-alarm fire at 1511 Williams St. on Thanksgiving day has been estimated at $360,000 for the building, and $400,000 for its contents.

The building is considered a total loss, but officials say firefighters were able to save the commercial building next door, which is valued at $2 million.

No injuries were reported, and the cause of the fire remains under investigation.


PREVIOUS STORY: A massive fire broke out in downtown Chattanooga on Thanksgiving night at a historic building on the city's Southside. More than half of the city's fire trucks had to respond to get the flames under control.

The three-alarm commercial fire prompted a large response from Chattanooga firefighters.

"The department has 26 companies total in the city. We've got 19 of them committed right now," said Capt. David Tallent with the Chattanooga Fire Department. 

Officials say the historic building, built back in the 1900s, housed a cabinet making shop and non-profit art studio, 

"Our entire welding shop is gone; our computer lab is gone," said Kathryn Warren, Founder of Art 120. "We've had a lot of friends in there from the art community that also lost a lot, so it is pretty devastating." 

Art 120, one of the largest tenants in the building, is now considered to be a total loss. Founder of the educational non-profit, Kathryn Warren said she couldn't believe her eyes when she saw the smoke and flames Thanksgiving night. She said the studio was in many ways a safe place for kids who wanted to escape, learn, and create beautiful things while dreaming of a brighter future. 

"I never thought I would lose my non-profit overnight, literally; but, we're not out and I'm thankful for the community and the support. I'm thankful that my kids are safe; I'm thankful that my family is okay and that it's just a building at the end of the day, it's just things," said Warren. 

It took more than half of the city's firefighters to get the blaze under control. Now only a few creations remain among the ashes. 

"It's kind of nothing compared to what some of my kids go through everyday," said Warren. "Some of them don't even know where they are going to sleep at night." 

That's why she's going to rebuild and make it work. Art 120 served more than 3,000 children across the Tennessee Valley last year and they hoped to reach even more children after Christmas break. 

Warren told Channel 3, it's a dream she is not giving up on. 

"We are all about trying to get art and education opportunities to the kids who don't normally have access to that. For example, there's 32 elementary schools in Hamilton County that do not have a full-time art program," said Warren. 

Looking at the damage, Warren knows those dreams will be a challenge.

 "We really need help with funds right now. That is probably the most critical need because we've got a lot of rebuilding to do and we've got a lot of children counting on us this year." said Warren. 

Arson investigators were called to the scene as standard procedure. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. 

To learn more about Art 120 or find out ways that you can help:  CLICK HERE


PREVIOUS STORY: A massive fire broke out in downtown Chattanooga on Thanksgiving night at a historic building on the city's Southside. More than half of the city's fire trucks had to respond to get the flames under control.

"The roof burned off, and it looks like we've lost the second floor," said Capt. David Tallent. "They're trying to salvage as much as they can of the building."

Drone video from a Channel 3 viewer shows massive flames burning a Southside business. The three-alarm commercial fire prompted a large response from Chattanooga firefighters.

"The department has 26 companies total in the city. We've got 19 of them committed right now," said Tallent.

The fire started around 5 p.m. Thursday. Heavy smoke was seen billowing out of the building on Williams Street, which was built in 1900, and housed an art studio and cabinet making shop.

The flames quickly spread through the roof and took about an hour to get most of them under control.

"We've got aerial devices put up," Tallent said. "I think we're worried about some structure stability of the walls. It seems to be an older building, so they're looking at trying to stay out of the collapse areas."

Several streets were blocked for hours, while firefighters worked to put out the hot spots.

The fire was contained to the one building, but a neighboring construction company did suffer some water damage.

No estimates yet on a dollar loss.

Arson investigators were called to the scene, but the cause of the fire is still unknown.


PREVIOUS STORY: Chattanooga firefighters responded to a commercial fire in downtown Chattanooga tonight. The initial alarm of a commercial fire at 1511 Williams Street was received at 5:01 p.m. When the first firefighters arrived at the scene, heavy smoke and fire was already showing from a building that contained an art studio and a cabinet-making shop. 

With the flames continuing to spread rapidly, the incident commander called for a second alarm response at 5:14 p.m. to bring in an additional six fire companies. Captain David Tallent said the flames continued to spread, eventually breaking through the roof. At 6:15 p.m., incident command called for a third alarm response to bring in an additional six fire companies. 

Captain Tallent said the firefighting operation went into a defensive mode early on, due to the age of the building and the fact that the fire had broken through the roof.

A total of 19 fire companies battled the flames for at least an hour before the bulk of the fire was brought under control.

No injuries were reported.

Captain Tallent said the firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading to a construction company business in an adjacent building, though it did have some water damage. The building with the art studio and cabinet shop had extensive damage. An estimate on the dollar loss was not available.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Chattanooga police, Hamilton County EMS, EPB and Chattanooga-Hamilton County Rescue provided assistance at the scene.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.


ORIGINAL STORY: Chattanooga firefighters are battling a huge fire at a vacant building on West 16th Street Thursday evening.

The fire was reported from the 100 block shortly after 5:00 p.m.

Officials tell Channel 3, no injuries have been reported at this time.

Video from WRCB viewer Katie Clark shows the building engulfed by large flames. Fire officials say the building houses multiple businesses.

The Chattanooga Fire Department has set up a command center at the corner of Main and Long streets. 

The cause of the fire is unknown.

Channel 3 has a crew on the scene.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.

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