Apartments for elderly and disabled evacuated after fire

By Lori Brown - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Dozens of elderly and disabled people made the curb their home for hours Saturday afternoon after a fire broke out just before 2 p.m. at the Memphis Towers apartment complex on Court Avenue.

The Memphis Fire Department said they evacuated 48 people, including 14 in wheelchairs, who were still inside the building when they arrived.

Jimmie Malone, a resident, said the building was difficult to exit during the fire.

"I was on the fifth floor and when I got out my door, I couldn't go down the steps because a lot of smoke and water going down there," Malone said.

Marvell Miles had already made it down from the third floor when firefighters began evacuating.

"The elevators worked," Miles said.  "Thank God for that, they worked."

The Memphis Fire Department said a man cooking with grease on the eighth floor started the fire.  He then tried to put the fire out in the bathroom, which also caught on fire.

Residents said he then threw the skillet with flames down the trash chute.

"They saw him come out with the wrapped up ankle and wrapped up hand," Malone said.

The dumpster is in the middle of the building.

"That's why a lot of people got sick off the smoke," Miles said, "the smell."

The Red Cross handed out food and drinks to the stranded residents who were outside for more than four hours while the fire department worked to clear the building of smoke and water and get the power back on.

MATA buses also provided shelter.

Karl Harris said he lives directly below the apartment that caught fire.

"They said my apartment was covered with water," Harris said.

Harris also said he was concerned about the things he will be unable to replace.

"I lost my mother and sister and grandmother all in two year's time," Harris said.  "I have things of sentimental value."

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