EFD investigating fire that damaged city apartment

Published 8:36 pm Thursday, August 17, 2017

A fire that damaged a city apartment building early Thursday morning is under investigation by the Elizabethton Fire Department.

Around 2:17 a.m. on Thursday, firefighters with the EFD responded to a structure fire at 711 1/2 West H St., Elizabethton. Officers of the Elizabethton Police Department also responded to the scene.

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The multi-family structure contained four different apartments. When firefighters and police arrived at the location the building was fully engulfed.

“When we got there, there was no one entrapped as had been initially reported,” said EFD Fire Marshal Andy Hardin. “There was one lady inside the apartment that burned. According to her, she climbed out the second story window.”

Hardin said the fire started in the bedroom of the apartment, but the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

“It had to start from some type of open flame like a candle, match or cigarette,” Hardin said. “There was no electricity in the unit.”

According to police reports, the woman, who was identified as Jessica Forbes, told officers she had been asleep inside the apartment when she was awakened by the smoke.

Forbes told the officers she and one of her sisters had been able to get out of the apartment but that another sister was still inside with her children.

“The investigation revealed the sister that had the children was Elena Mayse. I spoke with Ms. Mayse by telephone, and she stated she and her children were in North Carolina and were last at the apartment on August 16, 2017, at approximately 3 p.m.,” EPD Officer Eric Buck said. “Ms. Mayse stated her other sister was in Indiana.”

“Ms. Forbes appeared to be confused and disoriented,” Buck added. “It appeared the fire may have started in the apartment Ms. Forbes was in, but Ms. Forbes stated she didn’t know what may have started it.”

Buck said the apartment is leased by Mayse and her husband and around 5 p.m. on Wednesday EPD Officer Joe Holsclaw has been to the residence and informed Forbes she was to vacate the property by request of Mayse.