Wind, lack of water make Kingsport apartment fire difficult to contain

Strong winds, structure issues and a lack of water played a major role in why flames spread quickly at an Aspen Ridge apartment complex Thursday afternoon, according to Kingsport Deputy Fire Chief Terry Arnold. 

The call came in around 2:30 p.m. Thursday to a 4-unit building.

Fire crews spent nearly 8 hours putting out the flames.

The apartment building is now considered a total loss by Deputy Chief Arnold. 

The Aspen Ridge owner tells News Channel 11 she thinks the complex was built in the early 90s.

“That was the newest unit,” said Beth Dishman, the property owner, “the newest building on the complex.”

The 12 people in the building were not hurt, but a few pets died in the flames.

Deputy Fire Chief Terry Arnold says the 35 mile per hour wind gusts allowed the flames to quickly spread.

“Anytime you get a wind-driven fire,” he said, “it’s very hard to control within a structure.”

Building construction was also an issue, according to Arnold. 

“There weren’t modern noncombustible, fire resistant materials,” he said, “so it’s a stick-built structure, no sprinklers.”

Also hindering firefighters, low water pressure from hydrants.

The blue marked hydrant nearby normally pumps out 1,500 gallons per minute. 

“The hydrants just weren’t performing to what we thought they would,” said Arnold. “We talked to public works and they’re on top of that today to figure out what happened there, if there was an issue.”

A donation location has been set up at Aspen Ridge for victims of the fire.

“A lot of gratitude to God, to our community for everything that’s been done for them.”

News Channel 11 reached out to the water department at Kingsport Public Works on Friday to find out why the water pressure was low.

So far, we have not heard back.

Fire officials are still working to determine the cause of the fire. 

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