published Thursday, November 25th, 2010

No injuries in apartment fire

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    Staff Photo by Jake Daniels/Chattanooga Times Free Press Doug Flury with the Fort Oglethorpe Fire and Rescue Department organizes firefighters at a mobile command center in the parking lot of Battlewood Apartments in Fort Oglethorpe. A morning fire damaged two units in one of the buildings before being contained. No one was injured.

Debra McCord woke up Wednesday morning as Fort Oglethorpe firefighters lifted her from her bed and wrapped her in blankets.

Flames had been licking the walls in her neighbor's apartment, but McCord, who is deaf, slept through the firefighters pounding on her door.

That's what rescuers told McCord's daughter, Mary Dennis, who arrived to find her mother in an ambulance parked outside Battlewood Apartments.

"She's very shaken up about it," Dennis said. "She is just in shock."

Family members and neighbors are thankful no one was injured when fire damaged two apartments early Wednesday morning.

Flames were reported coming from the first and second floors of the complex about 6 a.m., Fort Oglethorpe Fire Department Chief Bruce Ballew said.

The fire was contained about 30 minutes after emergency personnel arrived, he said.

Later in the morning, five fire engines and two ladder trucks from the city and Catoosa County fire departments were clustered around the complex. Neighbors stood in groups, some in pajamas, watching as firefighters rewound hoses and checked for lingering flames.

Walls of two apartments had burn marks on the brick outside, and the windows had been removed to ventilate the smoke.

Ballew said the fire seemed to have started between the two floors and did not appear to be intentionally set. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The families in both damaged units were offered different apartments or found places elsewhere, said Chip Griffin, an apartment manager.

The Northwest Georgia Chapter of the American Red Cross is offering the families clothing and other necessities, Ballew said.

As for McCord, Dennis said her mother already had plans to stay with her during Thanksgiving and she will just stay until the water damage in her apartment is repaired.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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