The Chattanooga Fire Department both battled a fire and rescued a person from the Tennessee River Monday evening.

First, firefighters responded to a call at the Best Western on Lee Highway at about 9 p.m. Six companies were dispatched, and Battalion Chief Steve Swanson said the first companies to arrive saw smoke coming from a single room on the second floor. They also noticed that the window was already blackened by smoke.

The firefighters forced entry and began battling the fire, while others searched the room for occupants. Other hotel guests were evacuated at the same time.

No one was found in the room, and hotel management confirmed no guests were registered to that room. The fire was extinguished quickly, and all of the hotel’s residents were accounted for with no injuries. Several of the hotel’s occupants were relocated to other rooms, officials said.


The fire was ruled accidental. Lt. Andrew Waters with the Fire Investigation Division said the fire was probably started by an electrical malfunction in the same room where the fire was located. The dollar loss is estimated at approximately $10,000.

An hour later, Chattanooga firefighters were dispatched to the north end of Walnut Street Bridge on reports of a person in the water. Battalion Chief Lesley Morgan and the fire department’s fireboat were sent to locate the person. Morgan and Capt. Bill Dautrich worked with the fireboat crew to locate the victim, who was spotted by park ranger Daryl Nelson after hearing her voice downstream, approximately 2,500 feet below the bridge.

Park police and Chattanooga police held to the victim from a barge while waiting on the fireboat. She was taken to Ross’s Landing before being transported to the hospital for treatment.

Officials did not say how the victim came to be in the water.

Both Hamilton County EMS and the Chattanooga Police Departmentprovided assistance at both scenes.