Discarded smoking material in a garbage can was determined to be the cause of a Monday-night condominium fire, according to the Johnson City Fire Department.
Firefighters were called to 2305 S. Greenwood Drive, No. 8, Tuesday just before 8 p.m. and saw smoke coming from the building.
The fire was brought under control in about 10 minutes by firefighters.
According to a fire department news release, the fire began in the kitchen of condo No. 8 and extended into the attic.
Damage to the property was contained to condos 7, 8 and 9. Minor damage occurred to condos 7 and 9.
People in condos 7 and 9 were evacuated. No one was home at condo No. 8.
A kitchen trash can in condo No. 8 is where some kind of smoking material had been thrown away before being fully extinguished, JCFD Capt. Stanley Daniels said. The fire began in that trash can.
No one was hurt in the fire, according to Daniels. There was significant structural and property damage to condo No. 8, though.
“What happened, the fire went from a garbage can... and got inside the wall,” Daniels said.
The fire spread through something known as a utility chase. This space behind the wall is used to run various utilities like plumbing.
“Really that chase acted like a chimney, gave it a chimney effect and it drew the fire,” Daniels said.
Firefighters discovered the fire in the utility chase by using thermal imaging devices.
When firefighters tore into the wall they found the chase area to be heavily charred. Apparently the fire burned slowly and burst a water line, which helped prevent the fire from spreading too quickly. This likely lessened the damage to some extent, Daniels said.
The last fire truck left the scene around 10:20 p.m.
Daniels said the local Red Cross was not called, because the occupant of condo No. 8 had a place to stay. Condos 7 and 9 were still livable.
Michelle Maddux lives in condo No. 9. She noticed the fire and called 911. She wanted to thank the fire department for the quick response, which she said saved her home.
“Those firemen were so professional,” Maddux said. “The firemen were so nice to me. They were excellent. They were professional. They saved my home.”