5-Alarm Blaze Destroys Tenn. Homes

NASHVILLE, Tenn. --

Crews spent several hours fighting a 5-alarm blaze Friday morning that destroyed three homes and damaged two others.

According to officials, a vacant home on Wilburn St. in East Nashville was fully involved when they arrived on the scene around 11 p.m. Thursday.

The flames quickly spread to and destroyed two neighboring homes.

The houses are very close together on this block. The fire was very advanced when we were notified, said Assistant Metro Fire Chief Kim Lawson at the scene.

Crews also experienced difficulty getting the water supplies and pressure needed to sufficiently battle the blaze.

We were having water issues here on the scene, said Lawson. The closest hydrant was directly in front of the house that was on fire. The flames were so heavy that crews could not reach that particular hydrant so they used the water in their engines. It also took crews a little bit of time to get the pressure they needed.

Fortunately, the families living inside the neighboring homes were able to get out safely.

My daughter came in my room saying, momma, the house next door is in fire, and its coming to ours!, exclaimed Fay Ivey as she watched her home being destroyed by the flames. So I walked out the door with nothing just my pajamas, no shoes, nothing!

Two of the homes destroyed by the blaze were split up into apartments. Seven units in all were affected.

One of the residents was down the street when the fire broke out.

I got a call saying my house was on fire. I thought they were going to say April Fools, but they didnt, said Doris Gibson, so I ran down the street and saw that it was my house on fire. When I saw all my stuff on fire all I could do was drop to my knees. My whole street was on fire. It was a horrible experience.

According to District 5 Metro Councilman Jamie Hollin, who was at the scene early Friday morning, said this was not the first time the vacant home had caught fire.

As far as we know it has been on the demolition list in the codes department since December 2008. Last word I had was March 22 from the codes department that said 'we dont have enough money to do anything', explained Hollin.

The structure has already suffered significant fire damage before, and now that house is responsible for destroying two other homes and causing fire damage to two others, Hollin said.

According to Hollin, the owners of the home live in Greenbrier. He said the city of Nashville has told the owners the structure should be demolished, but Hollin says further action should have been taken before it was too late.

The slow wheels of justice have caused significant property damage which will cost a lot of money, and most importantly, displaced 3 families and put their lives at great risk. I think we need to be a little more swift with it.

The Red Cross was called out to the scene and reportedly spent the morning helping a total of 23 people find a place to stay.

I just thank God that my kids all got out safely, exclaimed Gibson who lived in one of the units with her four children. Im so glad no one was hurt, I just thank God for that.

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