Fire injures physically disabled UTC student after she is left in burning room

Fire injures physically disabled UTC student after she is left in burning room

September 18th, 2009 by Staff Report in Local Regional News

A UTC student suffered smoke inhalation and minor burn-related injuries after a small fire broke out in a bedroom at the UTC Place Apartments this morning.

UTC Campus Police and the Chattanooga Fire Department responded to the fire alarm in the 4000 Building of UTC Place Apartments around 3:20 a.m., according to Chuck Cantrell, assistant vice chancellor, university relations.

According to Bruce Garner, public information director with the Chattanooga Fire Department, the fire started in Apartment 4204 and appears to have involved a couple of blankets on the bedroom floor.

He said Jean Marie Lawrence, 22, who is physically disabled, was unable to get out of her bed.

Mr. Garner said an adult male was in the bedroom at the time, but he evidently ran out of the apartment when the fire broke out.

As the other students evacuated the five-story building, UTC police and security guards rushed to Ms. Lawrence's apartment and used a dry powder extinguisher to put the fire out.

Paramedics with Hamilton County EMS transported Ms. Lawrence to Erlanger hospital, where she was treated for smoke inhalation and a minor burn to one arm. Her injuries were not thought to be life-threatening, and she was expected to be treated and released.

Lt. Anthony Moore with the Fire Investigation Division commended the UTC security personnel for their quick actions.

"Our firefighters had not arrived yet and the flames were spreading to the victim's bed," said Lt. Moore. "If the UTC personnel had not put the fire out as quickly as they did, the victim would have had far more serious injuries."

Lt. Moore said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.