published Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Apartment fire displaces family

A Chattanooga family is homeless following an apartment fire started with a cigarette this afternoon.

The Chattanooga Fire Department received the alarm at 1:17 p.m. and responded with several fire companies to 2250 E. 24th Street Courts, according to spokesman Bruce Garner.

Melinda Cox, 46, told firefighters she had been smoking in an upstairs bedroom and thought she had extinguished her cigarette. She left the room and when she returned, the bed was on fire. Cox told firefighters she burned her hand trying to put the fire out. Realizing she could not stop the fire herself, she and her granddaughter safely got out of the apartment.

Firefighters contained the blaze to the bedroom, but the rest of the apartment had smoke and water damage, Garner said.

Hamilton County EMS treated Cox’s hand, and no other injuries were reported. The American Red Cross has been called to provide assistance to the family, Garner said.

The fire’s cause will be listed as accidental, due to careless smoking, Garner reported.

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