HAWKINS COUNTY, Tenn. - The Rogersville Police Department says a grease fire may be to blame for forcing 15 elderly people from their apartments in Hawkins County.
Caution tape is blocking the entrances, windows are broken out, and some black marks show where the fire was at Burton Plaza, an assisted living facility.
Oscar Arnold lives across the hall from where the fire happened. He tells us it was scary. "I was looking out the window in my living room and the lady said, 'Hey, you better get out of there, the place is on fire,'" he told us.
Arnold tells us he didn't even know the building was on fire, but when he opened the door he had to cover his mouth with a handkerchief. "It was so smoky you couldn't see good. I had to feel my way around the wall. When I got to the end of the wall, there was a door," he said.
Rogersville EMA Director Gary Murrell tells us the fire started in one apartment's kitchen, and thankfully firefighters were able to put it out quickly. "The building is still structurally sound.It's amazing, the amount of fire that was here, that it's still sound as it is. They're looking at what they can do to get the people back in them as quick as possible," he said.
Murrell tells us all of the apartments have smoke damage -- "One apartment has fire, smoke, and water damage. The apartment beside it has some smoke damage, and also water damage water damage to the lower level apartments," he said.
Murrell says thankfully nobody was seriously injured. He says one person was treated for smoke inhalation but wasn't taken to the hospital, "They treated her here and we had some fireman that got heat exhaustion because it was extremely hot Sunday afternoon when this fire was going on."
The fire did leave 15 elderly people without a home.
We learned most went to stay with other family members, and the Red Cross was called in to help two others like Oscar Arnold. "They told me I would have to stay here until Wednesday. It didn't cost me nothing, they're paying for it. It's a good thing because I ain't got that kind of money," he said.
Arnold tells us he's thankful for the Red Cross, and most of all he's thankful to be alive.
Murrell tells us no one at the apartment complex had renters' insurance. He says this is a good reminder for you to get renters' insurance; just in case a fire happens, all of your belongings will be protected.
The Rogersville Police Department says the investigation of the exact cause of the fire is still ongoing.