published Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Fire destroys townhome, leaves 4 families homeless

Nancy Fussell examines what is left after early morning gas-fed fire caused considerable damage to her niece's and three other townhomes at the 1200 block of Leaside Lane in Hixson.
Nancy Fussell examines what is left after early morning gas-fed fire caused considerable damage to her niece's and three other townhomes at the 1200 block of Leaside Lane in Hixson.
Photo by Dan Henry.

A gas-fed fire destroyed a townhome early Wednesday, leaving four families homeless, authorities said.

About 3:30 a.m., Chattanooga firefighters responded to 1282 Leaside Lane in Hixson, department spokesman Bruce Garner said.

At the residence, James Gonser said he awoke to the sound of popping noises. He went downstairs to investigate and found flames climbing the walls in the utility room, Garner said.

Gonser, his wife, and two children, 4 and 8 years old, got safely out of the house. His 19-year-old son, who was sleeping downstairs, had already made it out, Garner said.

Fire crews responded with six fire companies, Garner said.

The whole rear of the townhome was engulfed in flames when the first firefighters arrived, according to Chief Rick Sewell.

The fire spread to three other adjacent townhome units, Garner said.

Three of the four homes involved had extensive fire damage, Garner said.

"It's a building where (the units) are all connected by walls," Garner said.

Though the exact cause is under investigation, the fire was being fed by a ruptured gas line, Garner said, and the gas leak made containing the blaze more difficult.

The residents in the three adjacent units all escaped without injury, Garner said.

All residents affected said they were insured with other places to stay and didn't request the help of the Red Cross, he said.

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