CLARKSVILLE — An early morning fire has caused severe damage to a single-family residence and left one firefighter injured.
The fire was detected just before 7 a.m. at a home in the 1700 block of Thames Drive in Clarksville, which is just behind the Green Tree Mall. A mother and her two children living in the house evacuated safely upon recognizing the severity of the blaze.
Clarksville Fire Chief Brandon Skaggs said a Clarksville firefighter was injured when a dry wall ceiling collapsed on a crew inside the house while fighting the fire, and he was transported to Clark Memorial Hospital with a "non-life threatening, non-critical injury." He has since been released from the hospital, and he is expected to return to work soon.
The Clarksville Fire Department was initially dispatched to a car fire at the home, and two additional units responded upon learning of the extent of the fire. It took crews about an hour to get the fire was under control. The fire is still under investigation.
"We were initially thinking we were responding to a car fire," Skaggs said. "Some things changed, and now we're fighting three different fires — we have a garage on fire, we have a car on fire, and now we have a house on fire."
The American Red Cross responded to the scene to provide the family with vouchers for food and clothing, according to Skaggs.
According to the mother — who asked not to be identified — the fire originated from her car as she was getting ready for work. She started the car once only to have it die. After trying to restart the engine to no avail, she took the keys from the ignition and went inside to call a coworker.
That's when she heard a loud "pop."
When the resident first saw the flames, she tried to grab a hose to spray the car. The hose, however, was too tangled, so she retrieved her children and escaped out of the back door.
From there, the fire engulfed the carport and a portion of the garage next to it, eventually spreading to the main section of the house. The extreme heat also caused damage to the siding and fence of a neighboring home.
"This morning, my wife and I happened to look out from our dining room upstairs," neighbor Buck Buckler said. "We saw gray smoke. My wife at first thought it was fog, but I said, 'No, that's a fire.'"
Buckler said he immediately called 911 before going outside to assess the situation.
"I came around back and thought something was igniting it," Buckler said. "Sure enough, it was a car burning. Once that car took hold, that whole side [of the house] went as quick as you can blink an eye. It just torched it all. Once a car catches fire, it's like putting gasoline on it. Next thing you know, we start hearing explosions. I guess she had propane or a canister of something that started exploding."
Clarksville police and fire arrived on the scene "within a few minutes," Buckler added.
Landlord Doug Morrison and a small team of workers were also on site later in the morning to board up holes in the siding and roof of the home.
"The garage is going to have to be torn down," Morrison said. "The carport area is going to have to be torn down. This whole roof is probably going to have to be torn off. Interior walls didn't get a whole lot of damage other than the ceilings falling in from putting out the rafters."
Those repairs, Morrison said, could take about six months. The resident said she has made arrangements to stay with a family member.
— News and Tribune reporter Brooke McAfee contributed to this story.