Chattanooga firefighters were very busy Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning after a severe thunderstorm passed through the area. It started off with reports of flooded streets and downed power lines. As the storm intensified, lightning strikes hit the area and may have started several fires.
Three fires were the most significant in terms of damage. All three started around the 10 p.m. timeframe:
1. 6329 Jocelyn Dr.
Battalion Chief Steve Swanson said flames were visible on the outside of the house when the first firefighters arrived on the scene.
Chief Swanson said the flames were in the attic and on the exterior of the house and the firefighters were able to get the fire out fairly quickly. No injuries were reported. Reports from neighbors on the scene indicate that the fire may have been started by lightning. A fire investigator will try to confirm that.
2. 2428 Baskette Way
This fire was visible from a few miles away as fire apparatus rushed to the scene at 2428 Baskette Way. These were described as townhomes and Battalion Chief Bob Dixon said a 4-unit townhome complex was engulfed in flames.
Seeing the magnitude of the fire, Chief Dixon called for an extra two fire companies to help get the blaze under control. Working in a driving rainstorm with dangerous lightning all around, Chattanooga firefighters managed to extinguish the blaze, but the damage was extensive. Chief Dixon said it appeared that everyone in the townhomes got out safely, but that was not confirmed at the time of this release. One firefighter was injured when a hose coupling struck him in the head. Chief Dixon said the firefighter was transported by Hamilton County EMS to a local hospital, where he received a few stitches and was released. Eyewitnesses believe lightning started this fire. A fire investigator will try to confirm that.
3. 1919 Polymer Dr.
Chattanooga firefighters with six fire companies rushed to a commercial fire at Lectrus Inc. at 1919 Polymer Dr. Flames were shooting through the roof of the large, metal building when the first firefighters arrived. Battalion Chief Steve Swanson said firefighters attacked the fire from all sides with master streams from aerials and hand-held hoselines. Some of the firefighters made an interior attack and for a while found it difficult to get to the source of the flames.
After about an hour, most of the fire had been brought under control. The fire damage to the building and its contents was extensive. Chief Swanson said one firefighter was treated on the scene by Hamilton County EMS for heat exhaustion. All of the employees in the building had made it out safely when the fire was discovered.
Workers told firefighters that they saw a bright flash and then heard what sounded like an explosion. Moments later, fire was discovered in the building. Paul Reynolds, production supervisor for the night shift, said the building was used mostly for storage and maintenance. He said Lectrus employs about 250 people and makes electrical enclosures and solar integrators. He said the fire will affect part of the operation, but not all of it. Based on eyewitness accounts, lightning probably started this fire as well, but on an official level, a fire investigator will try to confirm that.
Fire at Lectrus Inc. at 1919 Polymer Dr.
- Photo2 by Bruce Garner