A fire in a downstairs apartment at the Tara Hills apartment complex on Elmhurst Drive late Sunday night forced the temporary evacuation of roughly 24 apartments, authorities said.
The fire was reported to the Oak Ridge Dispatch office just before midnight, and multiple units from the Oak Ridge Fire Department were dispatched, a press release said. Fire department units arrived to find heavy smoke coming from one of the apartment buildings with several people still inside the building, the release said.
“The fire was on the first floor of the building, but hallways on the second and third floors quickly filled with smoke,” ORFD Deputy Chief Josh Waldo said. “Many residents on the second and third floor were unaware of the fire until being notified by firefighters. Firefighters assisted several residents in evacuating the building through the smoke-filled hallways. All of the apartments did have working smoke detectors in them, but with the individual apartment doors being closed they kept the smoke out of the individual apartments. Many of the residents were asleep and had no knowledge of the fire downstairs until being awoken by the fire department.”
All of the residents were safely evacuated, and assistance was set up by the American Red Cross for anyone who was displaced, the press release said. The fire was contained to a single apartment, but the smoke removal process became very taxing, so many residents were not able to return to their apartments until roughly 3 a.m. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, the release said.