Fire destroys apartment, kills dog

By Thomas Wilson

STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   A fire that may have started in a fireplace destroyed one apartment of an 8-unit building and killed a resident's pet poodle at the Sterling Hills residential complex on the Milligan Highway on Saturday morning.
   Fire destroyed the apartment occupied by Anna Broome, no age available, of #27 Sterling Court on Saturday morning, according to Deputy Dean Jones of the Carter County Sheriff's Department.
   "She said she woke up to the fire alarm and got out," said Jones. "People then started banging on doors getting everybody up and out."
   The Carter County Rescue Squad transported Broome to Sycamore Shoals Hospital, Jones said. The deputy said she did not appear to be injured, but did suffer from asthma. Broome's pet poodle was killed in the fire.
   The apartment burned was one of the middle units at Sterling Hill, which was formerly the Overlook. The two apartments immediately adjacent to the burned unit sustained smoke damage.
   All the building's occupants were evacuated and electricity was cut to the building, according to authorities. No other residents or firefighters were injured in the incident, according to police.
   Jones said the fire call came in at 9:25 a.m. Saturday. He said firefighters put down the blaze in 30 to 45 minutes. Five fire departments including West Carter County and Central volunteer fire departments responded to the blaze.
   The building contained eight apartment units. Residents said the building's floor plan contained two bedrooms upstairs and a fireplace in each unit.
   Jones said Broome had indicated she had built a fire in her fireplace on Friday night.
   The exact cause of the fire was unknown as of Saturday. An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.
   Kenny Thompson, who resides two doors down in apartment 30, said he was awakened at around 9 a.m. when he heard someone banging on his door warning of the fire.
   "I went outside and everybody was running yelling, 'Fire!'" he said.
   Fire had visibly charred the entire interior of the apartment. The back area of the apartment was completely destroyed with the rear wall almost torn down and charred by flames.
   "They had the front put out pretty fast," said Thompson. "I walked around back and it was just blazing out the back."
   Neighbor Allen Davis watched the fire from the deck of his apartment in a building across the street.
   "I smelled smoke and came outside and saw the building burning," he said.
   Thompson said Broome had resided at the complex for only a "couple of months."
   Jane Mason, who resides in apartment 25 of the building, said someone knocking on her door warning her of the fire awakened her.
   "I ran out and then came back and panicked a little because I couldn't find my cat," said Mason who stood outside draped in a blanket as she watched firefighters comb through the apartment.
   Mason said she thought her apartment had sustained minor smoke damage but no fire damage.
   "The cat is safe and I'm safe," she said.