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Tenn. Facility Fire Kills 3, Injures 12

January 21, 2004

MARYVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Firefighters struggled in bitter cold to put out a fire at a retirement home that killed three people and injured at least 12 others, officials said.

The cause of the Tuesday night blaze at Home Away from Home Inc. had not been immediately determined, Blount County Sheriff Jim Berrong said. The facility is a for-profit center that offers assisted and unassisted living with a maximum resident occupancy of 20.

One of the residents died after being trapped in the building, Marian O’Briant, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, said early Wednesday. Some of the injured were treated for smoke inhalation, burns and one victim suffered a hip fracture.

Emergency workers helped residents from the facility as about a dozen ambulances converged on the ranch-style, brick building near Maryville, about 15 miles south of Knoxville.

A fire hydrant was not available so firefighters fashioned a makeshift pool by dumping truckloads of water, then used the pool as their main water source. It was so cold that firefighters had to put salt in the water to keep it from freezing.

A witness told The Knoxville News Sentinel that he was visiting his girlfriend, a center employee, when they heard a loud explosion. Smoke alarms sounded and the fire spread quickly, the witness said.

The fire was believed to have started at about 9 p.m. and took more than two hours to control. Most of the roof collapsed in the fire, which also scorched brickwork and awnings.

The fire comes four months after a blaze at a four-story nursing home in Nashville killed 15 residents, about half of whom died in the months following the blaze.

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