Church Hill apartment fire not suspicious, although cause not yet determined

Jeff Bobo • Mar 18, 2019 at 7:15 PM


CHURCH HILL — As of Monday evening the cause of a massive Church Hill fire that destroyed 10 apartments hadn't been determined, but the number of displaced residents was much higher than earlier reported.

Although 10 apartments were destroyed by fire Sunday afternoon at The Landings apartment complex on Silver Lake Road, only nine were occupied.

Church Hill Police Department Chief Chad Mosely told the Times News on Monday that not only were those residents displaced, but the occupants of 10 adjacent apartments had to move out as well due to the entire building operating on the same damaged electrical system.

The entire structure has 20 apartments, but there was a fire wall that prevented flames from spreading to the second group of 10 apartments.

The exact number of people who were displaced wasn't available Monday, but Mosely said the residents from the half of the building that didn't burn were able to go back in and grab some necessities before leaving.

There was no word on how long those residents would have to be out of their homes.

The burned half of the building was still too dangerous Monday for occupants to attempt salvaging valuables, Mosely said.

The American Red Cross responded to the complex to assist families with temporary lodging.

At about 3:10 p.m. on Sunday, the Church Hill Fire Department responded to the fire, located in the densely populated apartment complex that surrounds Silver Lake.

Everyone got out of the complex safely and there were no serious injuries.

One woman was treated by Hawkins County EMS at the scene for burns to her hands, but she wasn’t transported to the hospital by EMS, Mosley noted.

Investigators from the state fire marshal's office were at The Landings all day Monday, Church Hill Fire Chief David Wood told the Times News.

That investigation isn't complete and there was no information available about the cause of the fire, although Wood said it doesn't appear to be suspicious at this time.

"There was nothing out of the ordinary," Wood said. "They interviewed all the people who were involved, and they (investigators) didn't see anything obvious. It looked like it may have started in the breezeway area and just burned up."

Although the cause remains unknown, Wood said there's no question why the fire spread so fast.

Gusting wind can be seen feeding the flames in a video submitted to the Times News by Logan Clark. The video can be viewed in the online version of this article at www.timesnews.net.

"The wind was blowing yesterday, and it (the fire) was right out in the open," Wood said. "It went up real fast. One of our police officers was here within less than a minute (after the 911 call was made), and fire was already through the roof. It had plenty of air and oxygen, and really took off."

Firefighters from Carters Valley and Mount Carmel assisted at the scene. No firefighters were injured fighting this fire, although Mosley noted that several were exhausted.