The exact cause of the fire still wasn’t known as of Tuesday evening, however.
Shortly before 7 a.m. Tuesday, several Hawkins County fire departments were dispatched to a fire in the apartment above Dot & Rick’s Market, 2607 Highway 11-W, Surgoinsville.
Surgoinsville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jason Johnson said the lone apartment was occupied by a man and woman and her 2-year-old daughter, and they all made it out safely. Johnson said the woman indicated that she’d noticed smoke coming from a clothes basket in the bathroom. The basket was near an electric wall heater, but the heater apparently hadn’t been used since the woman moved in.
“She said it looked like it was smoking from the bottom of the basket,” Johnson said. “When she went back and opened the door to the bathroom, it just kind of took off.”
Johnson said he received the 911 page for the fire at 6:50 a.m., and by the time his department arrived a few minutes later the fire had already burned through the roof and destroyed the apartment. The fire was suppressed within 10 to 15 minutes.
The store mainly suffered water damage.
“The kitchen part is underneath the apartment, so it got most of the damage because the insulation in the ceiling of the store got wet, and it pulled most of the ceiling down,” Johnson said. “We got in and tried to get everything that was salvageable out. I don’t believe they’ve lost much merchandise.
“They’re going to lose their ice cream — just stuff like that — their perishables where the coolers were off.”
By early afternoon, cleanup crews were working inside the store. It wasn’t known how long the store will be closed due to the fire.
The Red Cross responded to the scene to help the occupants of the apartment with necessities and temporary lodging.
Assisting the Surgoinsville VFD at the scene were firefighters from Church Hill, Carters Valley, Goshen Valley, Striggersville and Stanley Valley.