Shortly after 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, Chattanooga firefighters rushed to a reported duplex fire at 703 E. 49th St. in the Emma Wheeler Homes housing development.
Capt. David Barie with Engine 9 said an employee working on sewer lines in the area was the first to discover the fire. After calling 911, he banged on the doors of both apartments in the duplex. The side where the fire was located was unoccupied.
On the other side were two adults and two children. Catina Williams told firefighters that her daughter woke her up, saying she smelled smoke. By then, the smoke alarms activated, and all four residents got out safely.
With flames shooting through the roof on the other side of the duplex, Capt. David Thompson Jr., the incident commander, called for two additional fire companies, bringing the total to six on the scene.
Barie said firefighters had to force their way into the vacant duplex, and they located the fire in the attic. The firefighters got into the attic in both apartments and managed to contain the blaze to one side. The occupied side of the duplex had some smoke damage, officials said.
Barie said the employee who spotted the fire was treated on the scene by Hamilton County EMS for smoke inhalation, but declined to be taken to a hospital. Volunteers with the American Red Cross were called in to provide assistance to the fire victims.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Chattanooga police also provided assistance on the scene.