When Chattanooga firefighters were dispatched to a house fire around 4 p.m. on Thursday, they were told that a woman might still be inside. The first firefighters to arrive on the scene at 4621 Highland Ave. immediately made entry to look for the woman and anyone else.
As thick, black smoke began to fill the house, Lt. Shaun Hinosa and Firefighter Julio Vargas with Quint 14 found the woman in the front bedroom. She was in a hospital bed and unable to move herself. Lt. Hinosa said they rolled the bed to a door, and then tried to lift the woman from the bed, using the bed sheets. Due to the woman's size, they needed help. Lt. Tyler Swindell and Firefighter Preston Binegar with Squad 1 arrived to help. Together, all four firefighters managed to lift the woman out of the bed and carry her out of the house to a waiting ambulance.
In the meantime, other Chattanooga firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze. Battalion Chief Ashley May, the incident commander, said the firefighters put the fire out quickly, but there was substantial damage to the house. The loss was estimated at $40,000.
The lead fire investigator has ruled the cause of the fire accidental, most likely from an unattended space heater. Chief May said the woman did not appear to be injured by the fire, but was transported to a local hospital by Hamilton County EMS as a precaution. Volunteers with the American Red Cross were called in to provide assistance to the victim.