Firefighters from Carters Valley and Mount Carmel were dispatched shortly after 12:30 a.m. Thursday to the seven-unit apartment complex at 6135 Carters Valley Road. There was an initial report that not everyone had made it out of the complex, and the Kingsport Fire Department was dispatched to offer assistance as well, but firefighters later learned everyone had gotten out of the building.
Carters Valley Volunteer Fire Department Capt. Mike Yates said the fire started in Apartment 6, where the resident apparently fell asleep with a lit cigarette. Yates that the resident indicated that he woke up a short time later to use the bathroom, and moments later noticed smoke and an orange glow in the apartment.
“He opened the door to get out, and it flashed up on him,” Yates said. “Fortunately he didn’t get hurt and everyone got out safely.”
The loss in Apartment 6 was estimated at $10,000. Two apartments next door suffered smoke damage, and the apartment directly beneath Apartment 6 suffered water damage, Yates said.
Three residences were uninhabitable following the fire, and the Red Cross was called to the scene to provide lodging assistance.
Apartment complex residents were fighting the fire with a hose and fire extinguisher when firefighters arrived on the scene. Yates said their efforts along with quick response from firefighters prevented the building from being a total loss.
“We were very fortunate to get crews on the scene when we did and stop the fire from getting in the attic,” Yates said. “It was within just a matter of minutes from getting into the attic, and if it had there would have been no way we could have stopped it.”