Careless smoking cigarettes appears to be the cause of a fire last night that has sent a Chattanooga woman to the hospital with severe burns. Chattanooga firefighters were dispatched to a house fire at 3024 Westside Drive just before midnight last night. Captain David Barie with Engine 9 said that when his crew entered the house, there was light smoke.
The homeowner, Davie Cayce, told the firefighters that the fire had been in a bedroom, but he used two portable fire extinguishers to get the flames out. However, as the firefighters began looking around, flames were visible in one of the bedrooms. The firefighters took in a hand-held hoseline and contained the fire to the bedroom.
Mr. Cayce told firefighters that his friend, Edy Baker, 60, had fallen asleep in the bed while smoking cigarettes. The lit cigarette apparently started a fire on the mattress and spread to the rest of the room.
Captain Barie said Ms. Baker suffered severe injuries from the fire. The firefighters treated the victim on the scene and then handed her over to Hamilton County EMS, who rushed her to Erlanger Medical Center. Ms. Baker reportedly had burns to approximately 60% of her body. After her condition was assessed at Erlanger, she was flown early this morning to the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Georgia.
Captain Anthony Moore with the Fire Investigation Division said the physical evidence supports the claim that Ms. Baker's cigarette started the fire when she fell asleep in bed. The cause of the fire will be ruled accidental. The dollar loss from the fire was estimated at $20,000.