An apparent burned pot of food on a stove on the fifth floor of an Oak Ridge apartment building filled hallways with smoke on Sunday and forced firefighters to try to evacuate tenants from all six floors, Oak Ridge Deputy Fire Chief David Harrington said.
“When they opened up the door, it filled the hallways with smoke,” Harrington said.
Firefighters tried to evacuate tenants at the Callaghan Towers apartments on Fairbanks Road because they didn’t initially know the source of the 9:45 a.m. alarm, but Harrington said he wasn’t sure how many people were evacuated.
Some apartment residents, including tenants in wheelchairs, were on the building’s upper floors, and the elevators quit working during the alarm, complicating the evacuation.
Since firefighters determined fairly quickly that there was no fire, they sheltered tenants “in place” on the upper floors of the block, fire-resistant building, Harrington said.
“As far we could tell, there was actually no fire,” he said.
A few residents were evaluated for possible smoke inhalation, but Harrington said he was not sure if anyone was taken to the hospital.
He said firefighters will work with apartment managers to develop a future evacuation plan for the building, which doesn’t have to abide the same procedures as a health-care facility.
Harrington said units from all four of Oak Ridge’s fire stations responded to the Sunday morning alarm, and Y-12 firefighters were called in to help the fire department in the city.
Harrington said fire alarms that are triggered by stovetop cooking are fairly common in most apartment complexes.