KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Summit Towers Apartments residents are still waiting to find out exactly when they will be able to move back into their units.

One person was hospitalized and 287 residents of Summit Towers Apartments were moved out Tuesday after a small fire on the eighth floor had to be extinguished by the building’s sprinkler system.

Knoxville Fire Department officials said water from the sprinklers got into the elevator shaft and caused damage to its electrical system. They said four or five floors were affected by the volume of water released by the sprinklers.

The latest update on Wednesday, according to City of Knoxville officials, was that the company repairing the elevators was waiting on some parts to fix the problem. Once at least one elevator is in operation, residents may return to the building. The elevators not working asls caused problems because many of the residents are disabled.

Judith Petree lives on the 7th floor. She said she didn’t hear any fire alarms, nor did her sprinklers go off. “I did not (have any water damage). Some of the apartments on my floor did, down to my apartment,” Petree said.

Several residents told 6 On Your Side they never heard the fire alarms, however, the fire didn’t start until 11:54 p.m. on Monday. KFD officials said the fire alarms did go off after the sprinkler system turned on.

“So if you can imagine if somebody lived on 10, and there were no elevators and they were disabled? How were they to navigate the stairs? You know, that’s not realistic to go up 10 flights of stairs,” Victoria Garrett, a resident at Summit Towers, said.

Petree discovered the hard way that the elevators weren’t working. Before the building was ever evacuated, she had a doctor’s appointment and went to the grocery store. When she came back, she had to use the stairs.

“I took the perishables that I had, two bags of groceries, and had to climb seven flights of stairs to my apartment,” Petree said.

That was around 4 p.m. According to KFD officials, they started evacuating residents due to the elevator outage around 5 p.m.

“The firemen came by and told me that I had to leave. I said, ‘well, there’s nothing wrong with my apartment. There’s no damage or nothing.’ And there wasn’t. But, he said it was a mandatory evacuation,” Willie Miles, another resident, said.

Petree said she waited until the very last KAT bus was loaded up with residents before deciding what to do.

She said that process finished around 1 a.m. They were all heading to the Jacob Building at Chilhowee Park for a shelter set up by the Red Cross.

“We’ve had over 40 working this operation. They have to get up in the middle of the night, they have to get our trailers here, they have to unload cots, they have to unload first aid, they have to unload everything so we can meet everybody’s unique needs,” Sharon Hudson, Executive Director of the East Tennessee Red Cross chapter, said.

Petree felt that the shelter couldn’t meet her needs when it came to safety against COVID-19. She has COPD and other serious health conditions, and can’t risk being inside a building with 100 other people in somewhat close quarters.

She knows many of her neighbors are the same. “So, we are already at risk. Many of us with immune issues and I do not think this plan is acceptable.”

That’s why she stayed in her car Tuesday night. She parked in the Summit Towers parking lot and slept there. It was too late in the night to try and reach out to family for help.

On Wednesday, like many other residents, she was looking for answers.

“So, I do not know what the plan is for the future, but I would like to know. I’m sure all the other residents would too. I’m separated from my cat,” Petree said.

Young Williams Animal Center took in 25 animals for the residents of Summit Towers. Petree’s cat was one of them.

Petree was able to stay in a hotel Wednesday night, thanks to the help from the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee.

The Red Cross shelter at the Jacob Building will stay open for as long as needed. Cracker Barrel will be providing lunch and dinner for the next five days, according to Cracker Barrel staff.

“At this time, we don’t have a time on how long the shelter will be open. Red Cross is always there to meet the ends, and we’re there as long as the clients have a need,” Hudson said.

Hudson said after situations like this, she likes to remind families to make a plan for similar disasters. She said in a fire, people only have two minutes to gather all of their belongings.