Fire at downtown apartment construction site considered ‘suspicious’

Apartment bldg. destroyed by fire

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Flames and thick smoke filled the Downtown Memphis sky for hours Friday morning.

It was an unexpected greeting for Deandre Hambrick, who was installing cabinets at the apartment complex still being built.

"When we got here at 5:30 it was already in smokes it was big as ever just super big super huge," said Hambrick.

The apartment development is called Forum Flats and includes four buildings, a $21 million project according to the builders.

Memphis firefighters were able to contain the blaze to one L-shaped structure and keep the whole complex from burning down.

In total, 103 apartments were destroyed.

The department set up a drone, one of the first times it's ever done so, at a big fire like this.

"This is new technology that we are still starting to learn how to use," said Gina Sweat, MFD director.

MFD Director Gina Sweat says the drone is equipped with a thermal imaging camera to better identify hot spots.

That means the department doesn't have to put as many firefighters in elevated positions.

"This is a good opportunity for us to be able to use the drone and realize what it is capable of," said Sweat.

Nearby, the city of Memphis and Memphis Housing Authority are constructing new apartments at the site of the former Foote Homes called South City.

The Forum Flats are not an official part of that effort but the Memphis Housing Authority had committed 47 vouchers to this project.

The construction company, Patton and Taylor Enterprises, is local and based in Germantown.

Representatives did not want to talk on camera today.

The Memphis Fire Department says this is an ongoing investigation.

The construction company reps say they don’t believe the fire was electrical because the building that caught fire wasn’t supposed to have power installed until next week.

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