Chattanooga residents start returning to Patten Towers months after the fire

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This story was updated on Wednesday May 26, 2021 at 11:20 pm to clarify the number of residents who have returned to Patten Towers.

Brenda Carter was surprised when she got chills admitting that she was expecting something so simple: she would have her own stove again, a stove to cook at home for the first time in months.

Chills gave way to tears in his eyes. She was also surprised by these. It caught her off guard how excited she was to be back home, to see all the familiar faces getting off the bus on 11th Street and carrying boxes up to the 11th floor.

“I thank God for my life,” Carter said. “I am so happy to be home.”

Carter was one of 103 Patten Towers residents who returned to their apartments this week, two months after a fire forced all residents out.

In March, residents of Patten Towers were evacuated and one was injured as they tried to escape a fire on the seventh floor in downtown Chattanooga.

The call went out at 10:36 a.m. on Saturday, March 27. Almost every company working for the Chattanooga Fire Department responded. At the time, the fire department said in a press release that off-duty members of the service had come, including command staff, to help, and many service partners visited the barracks.

A number of firefighters assisted with the evacuations, which was difficult as a number of residents were not ambulatory and had to be transported out of the building.

The blaze, which was started by someone on the seventh floor smoking in his bed, was extinguished at 11:44 am Firefighters later discovered that a man “had fallen asleep and woke up in his bed. bed on fire ”.

Photo by Patrick Filbin / Scenes from move-in day at Patten Towers in downtown Chattanooga on Wednesday morning.

Floors 7, 8 and 9 of the building were “seriously affected” by the fire and these residents were transported from the premises by CARTA. Residents on floors 1-6 were asked to shelter in place as groups such as the Red Cross scrambled to find them temporary accommodation.

The fire on the seventh floor left the building doomed until repairs were made. The 184 residents had to be moved to temporary shelters such as local hotels and motels.

Martha Hopkins, regional vice president of Elmington Capital, owner of the building, said on Wednesday 75 people had moved in earlier in the week and 28 more were scheduled for Wednesday.

“Many residents have stayed with their family and friends, others have been in hotels for months and we are really happy to have them back,” she said. “Everything went well today, and we hope everyone will be back by the end of the week.”

Hopkins said help from the city of Chattanooga, CARTA, the Enterprise Company, the American Red Cross and many others have helped speed up the process of getting people back into the building.

Carter said the hospitality at the Baymont Hotel was fantastic, but she’s happy to finally have a place of her own.

Erected in 1908 on the corner of Market and East 11th streets, the Patten Hotel was Chattanooga’s first skyscraper and hosted three presidents before and after their election – President William Howard Taft in 1911, Warren G. Harding in 1920 and John F. Kennedy in 1953.

The hotel was later converted into an apartment complex, a 196,500 square foot structure that houses dozens of low to moderate income residents.

Contact Patrick Filbin at [email protected]



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