KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — Rural Metro Firefighters were called out about a report of a fire at the Walker Springs Apartment Complex Building J.
Firefighters reported to the scene and saw that the flames spread quickly due to the building not having a sprinkler system. The fire’s blaze could be seen from I-40 near the Walker Springs exit.
It caused tremendous damage. Rural Metro said one building is a total loss.
“It’s pretty scary,” said William Roberts who’s a resident of the apartment complex and lives across the street from the affected buildings. “We felt the heat from the fire across the street.”
Residents, such as Roberts, watch in disbelief as smoke and flames engulfed an apartment building on Walker Springs Road.
“People running around, a bunch of sirens, fire trucks ambulance, people busting out windows to save animals, dogs and cats,” Roberts said.
According to Rural Metro, more than 40 firefighters, two AMR ambulances, and multiple Knox County Sheriffs’ units responded to the fire that destroyed one building and damaged another.
“Anytime you have a building, or a fire of this magnitude, and the fire burns in on itself, now we have to sift through that to actually extinguish what’s underlying and what’s burning underneath,” Jeff Bagwell with Rural Metro said.
The American Red Cross was called in to help those who are now displaced since one building involved has been determined a total loss.
“Right now our first thing is to make sure that they have a safe place to stay tonight. So, we will interview each family, find out what their exact needs are and go from there. The ones that don’t have a place to stay, we will find financial assistance for them to make sure they have a place to stay and that they have their medicines and such that are vital for tonight,” said Melissa Gibson, a disaster program specialist program partner with the American Red Cross.
According to Gibson, around 20 people may be displaced from their homes.
Those who live in the complex and across the street from the affected buildings say neighbors were calling one another, trying to get people out of the apartments and making sure their friends were okay.
“It took about 30 minutes for two buildings to go up in flames,” Roberts said.
Now, it could take days or weeks for investigators to find out what caused this fire.
Rural Metro said there were no people who reported injuries, but it’s not clear about any pets.
WATE reached out to the apartment complex management for a statement but has not heard back at this time.
Editor’s Note: This is an ongoing investigation. We will update this story as we receive more information.