KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A fire and water leak cause 250 people to evacuate their homes Saturday night at the Northgate Terrace Senior Center on Whittle Springs Road.
Residents were evacuated because of electrical concerns and are now having to find temporary housing.
According to KFD firefighters were called to Northgate after a lamp caught fire in one of the rooms.
“We could hear the sirens and alarms and things and lights go off in our apartment but I was, and he was too, above the situation,” said Linda Dunseth, a resident at the apartments.
According to KFD the sprinkler system in the building put the fire out quickly but that water soaked through other apartments, causing everyone to evacuate due to electrical concerns.
“I grabbed my medicine and the clothes I had on and that was it,” said another resident, Glen Ridge. “I didn’t have time to get clothing or anything but they wanted us out of there quick.”
Ridge has lived in the apartment complex for three years.
At 84 years old he was concerned he would have to walk down several flights of stairs.
Ridge said, “Of course I was in this chair and they said the elevators were shut down, but we got down the elevators. A lot of people had to walk down nine flights of stairs.”
Once he and other residents made it out of the complex, busses transported people to a nearby church.
“Everybody was packing all the stuff they could get on that bus,” he added.
Linda Dunseth explained, “they first took us to Central Baptist Church and they were very nice to us, fed us well, helped us as much as they could.”
Red Cross is helping to find temporary housing for some residents which include nearby hotels.
“Tomorrow they will be giving us some money for clothes and food as well,” said Dunseth.
Dunseth is 66-years-old and says she’s lived at the apartment for over 30 years,
“This is the first time anything this large has happened in the almost 30 years I’ve been here.”
Both Dunseth and Ridge aren’t sure when they’ll be able to go back home but hope it’s sometime soon.
“We can’t go back in until all this is checked out and approved,” said Dunseth.
Ridge adds, “We’ll go back. Our apartment is not damaged. They’re not wet or anything. I’d say we’d probably go back within four days. It might be longer. I don’t know.”
Young-Williams Animal Center is also assisting with housing pets that were displaced along with their owners. Currently, they are housing 28 pets.
It is unclear how long residents will be displaced.