Family escapes morning fire

 Chattanooga, TN (WDEF)- Apastor and his family will have to stay somewhere else Saturday night after a fire broke out in their home next to the Northside Community Church.

The Chattanooga Fire Department received the alarm at 10:31 a.m. and responded to 819 Mississippi Avenue with five fire companies.

There were some tense moments when the first firefighters arrived on the scene. The intense heat and flames inside the two-story building, which was being used as a church parsonage, was building up fast. Then firefighters and eyewitnesses saw what appeared to be a *backdraft. Captain Terry Martin with Engine 12 said the flames exploded out of several windows on the first floor, sending glass and other debris 20 to 30 feet away. Fortunately, no one was injured.

Chief Sewell said the fire damage was contained to the first floor apartment where Pastor Mitchell Reaves and his family lived. The rest of the two-story building, which has an upstairs apartment and some offices, had substantial smoke damage. The dollar loss has been estimated at $50,000 for the contents and $75,000 for the structure. 

 Pastor Reaves said the fire started in a kitchenette, which was being used to store things, such as wedding presents. His daughter got married last week and is away on her honeymoon. When fire broke out in that room, a smoke alarm alerted the family to the fire. 

All six family members got out uninjured. Before leaving, Pastor Reaves said he got a portable fire extinguisher and had most of the fire out, but when the extinguisher was empty, he went to get some water. By the time he returned, the room was engulfed in flames.

 A fire investigator is trying to confirm exactly how the fire started. For now, it remains under investigation. Volunteers with the American Red Cross of Southeast Tennessee were called in to provide assistance to the family. Chattanooga police and Hamilton County EMS also provided assistance on the scene.


* Backdraft: The room’s contents are at their ignition temperature and will erupt in flames when oxygen is introduced, and the hot gases will ignite with explosive force. This is a backdraft. The explosive force at which the backdraft occurs is a result of the amount of superheated gas in the space and the amount of oxygen introduced. The explosive force can break windows, knock down walls, and injure firefighters. Source: Christopher Flatley, Fire Engineering.



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