Chattanooga firefighters spent the early morning hours battling a large commercial fire, and saving a lot of property.
Dispatchers at the 9-1-1 Communication Center said a burglar alarm at 2:42 am, was the first indication that something unusual was happening at C & J Pawn Shop at 2457 Glass Street. Minutes later, Chattanooga police officers and a few residents in the area told 9-1-1 dispatchers that the business was on fire.
The first firefighters on the scene were Captain Andy Carson and his crew with Engine 4. "Moderate smoke was showing initially," said Carson, "but when fire blew out the windows I knew we were in for a fight."
Carson called for a second alarm response to bring in additional firefighters and equipment. Meantime, Carson said they forced their way in to make an interior attack, but the intensity of the flames and the danger of structural collapse necessitated a withdrawal to a defensive firefighting operation.
Battalion Chief Winston Shields arrived with the additional fire companies and took over command of the operation. C & J Pawn Shop is located in the middle of a strip mall at the corner of Glass Street and Chamberlain Avenue.
The blaze threatened to consume all of the businesses in the strip, but Chattanooga firefighters worked diligently to cut the fire off and minimize the damage.
The pawn shop was destroyed, and the flames had spread to one adjacent building that had recently been leased to a church. Though there was smoke and water damage to an additional business to the left of the pawn shop and to the right of the church property, the firefighters had succeeded in stopping the fire's progress. "These firefighters absolutely did a fantastic job of cutting this fire off," said Shields. "The fact is, we saved a lot more property than we lost." No one was injured in the fire.
One resident lived in an apartment above one of the businesses that was saved. He woke to the sound of the alarms, and was already outside when firefighters arrived.
Technicians with the Electric Power Board cut power to the building and surrounding area for the safety of the firefighters, leaving roughly 400 homes temporarily without power.
A couple of hours later, they managed to isolate electrical service to the building on fire, and restored power to most homes in the neighborhood. The section of Glass Street that intersects with Chamberlain Avenue was completely blocked to traffic by emergency vehicles, and was expected to remain that way through the morning hours.
The 2-alarm fire involved the response of 12 fire companies. Chattanooga police, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Rescue and Hamilton County EMS also provided assistance on the scene. The cause of the fire will be investigated by Senior Firefighter Henry McElvain with the Fire Investigation Division.