Electrical Fire Forces Evacuation of Tennessee High-Rise

Firefighters respond to an electrical fire call at a high-rise building in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

By Bruce Garner

Chattanooga (TN) firefighters rushed to J.C. Towers on W. Martin Luther King Boulevard around 11:30 this morning on a reported high-rise fire. Battalion Chief Lesley Morgan said firefighters located the fire in a mechanical room on the eighth floor. The firefighters got the fire out in less than 10 minutes, but it generated a lot of smoke, which spread throughout the eighth floor and higher.

The firefighters began to immediately evacuate residents from the eighth floor and above. Chief Morgan called for a second alarm response to bring in additional firefighters to help with the evacuation. Many of the residents have physical disabilities, so the firefighters had to assist or even carry the residents down to the lobby area.

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Once it was confirmed that the fire was completely out, the evacuation was stopped and most of the residents were asked to shelter in place. No fire-related injuries were reported, but paramedics with Hamilton County EMS did check out a couple of residents who needed medical attention.

The fire knocked out power to the entire building, and EPB technicians informed the fire department that repairs could take hours and might even stretch into tomorrow before power is fully restored. As a result, Chief Morgan made the decision to evacuate the entire 18-story building, which has approximately 150 residents.

The American Red Cross of Southeast Tennessee is setting up a temporary shelter at the South Chattanooga Recreation Center on W. 40th Street. The plan is to use CARTA buses this afternoon to transport the residents to the shelter. The Salvation Army of Chattanooga is also providing valuable assistance by providing its canteen to feed the residents.


There were some reports that the emergency lights were not working in some parts of the building. Representatives of the fire marshal’s office will be doing a follow-up investigation on that.


Firefighters at the evacuation of a high-rise in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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