published Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Gas sniffing eyed in connection with cause of March 29 apartment fire in Chattanooga

A Chattanooga woman was arrested Wednesday in connection with the March 29 fire at Mountain Brook Apartments.

Firefighters had reported a "strong smell of gasoline" in the apartment where the fire started, and investigators found evidence that one of the two occupants had been "huffing" gasoline in the apartment's bathroom, according to a press release from the Chattanooga Fire Department.

Investigators determined that whoever had been sniffing gas had apparently used a cigarette lighter or struck a match, causing the room full of gas fumes to erupt in flames, according to the release. Firefighters contained that blaze to just the one apartment unit, and the dollar loss was estimated at $75,000. The two occupants in the apartment were unharmed.

Victoria Daniels, 24, who along with her husband was evicted after the fire, was arrested at the HomeAway Extended Stay Studios on Northpoint Boulevard in Hixson. When investigators approached her room Wednesday morning they could smell gas fumes, and after Daniels refused to answer the door, investigators entered through the window. In the motel room they discovered two one-gallon bleach containers full of gas.

Chattanooga police helped fire investigators transport Daniels for questioning. Shortly after investigators left with Daniels, motel employees discovered a diaper bag with two additional one-gallon jugs of gas, according to the release.

Daniels never admitted to anything and refused to cooperate with investigators. She was charged by Chattanooga's Fire Investigation Division with six counts of reckless endangerment as a result of the fire at Mountain Brooks Apartments and was transferred to the county jail for booking.

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