published Saturday, January 15th, 2011, updated Jan. 15th, 2011 at 2:56 p.m.

Apartment blaze may have resulted in Chattanooga's first fire-related fatality of 2011

An apartment fire early this morning may have resulted in Chattanooga's first fire-related fatality of 2011, officials say.

While battling the flames at a 518 E. Fifth Street apartment building, firefighters found a body in the bathroom, Bruce Garner of the Chattanooga Fire Department said.

Investigators say the victim was a 42-year-old woman, but her identity is being withheld until family is notified.

Calls came into the 911 Center shortly before 2 a.m., he said. Six fire companies arrived to find the fire in a back bedroom and bathroom in an apartment on the first floor.

518 E. 5th Street
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Firefighters were able to contain the fire to those two rooms in the two-story house which had been converted into several apartment units.

The victim's sister was asleep in the apartment when the fire broke out, Fire Investigator Andy Waters said. He said the victim's sister is deaf, but a smoke alarm equipped with a strobe light for the hearing impaired woke the woman up and she managed to escape unharmed.

Investigators are currently trying to determine the cause of the fire and the circumstances surrounding the woman's death, Garner said.

Residents in the other apartment units were uninjured, he said.

about Harrison Keely...

Harrison Keely is an online breaking news producer for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He also anchors the daily newscast. He joined the Times Free Press as a reporter in 2010. He previously served as managing editor of the Smoky Mountain Sentinel in western North Carolina and as a business reporter for the Washington Times in Washington, D.C. He graduated from Lee University in 2009 where he served as managing editor of the student news ...

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