Chattanooga fire investigators blame an electrical malfunction for sparking a fire in a large home in the Mountain Creek Road area this morning, according to department spokesman Bruce Garner.
They also believe a "hot spot" created by the first fire ignited a second fire in the same house at 5746 Bobby Dale Lane, which completely destroyed the structure, Garner said.
Homeowner Heinz Lange told firefighters that he was sleeping when he awoke around 5 a.m. to the smell of smoke. He said the smoke blocked him from going downstairs, so he escaped through a bedroom window, scraping his arm. Once outside, he called 911.
Chattanooga firefighters located the fire in the downstairs laundry room and the firefighters got the blaze out quickly.
The rest of the house had smoke damage, but most of the fire damage was contained to the laundry room area, Garner said.
Just four hours later, firefighters were dispatched to the same house - now completely engulfed in flames.
Though firefighters were once again able to get the blaze under control, Garner said the house was a complete loss, with damages reaching more than $200,000.
Garner said the Fire Investigation Division believes the second fire is directly related to the first one.
After a fire is extinguished, firefighters routinely perform what is called a "salvage and overhaul" operation. They cut into walls and ceilings to expose and extinguish potentially-volatile hot spots.
They also use thermal imaging cameras to look for the hot spots, Garner said
Despite those efforts this morning, investigators believe a hot spot - hidden out of view in the walls or in the ceiling - re-ignited the fire.