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Fatal Nashville Apartment Fire Caused By Pot Left On Stove

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Posted at 4:30 PM, Aug 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-07 17:11:07-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – An unattended pot left on a kitchen stove has been deemed the cause of a deadly fire that broke out at an apartment complex north of Nashville. A 55-year-old woman was killed in the blaze. 

The woman was identified as Pernessa Thompson. 

The incident happened overnight Tuesday, at the Haynes Garden Apartments in the Whites Creek Pike area.

Officials with the Nashville Fire Department said the call came in around 1 a.m. The 2-alarm fire prompted a response from at least 20 or more firefighters.

Authorities said the fire was caused by an unattended pot left on a stove inside one of the units. From the kitchen, the blaze spread to the attic, where it destroyed more than half of the building's roof. 

As they were working to extinguish the flames, a girl ran up and said her grandmother was trapped inside a unit. Crews were forced to use axes to get inside an apartment where the flames were the heaviest. 

Inside, they said the smoke was so thick, they had to feel their way into the complex. They were able to get her out and performed CPR until ambulances arrived on the scene. 

Thompson was taken to TriStar Skyline Medical Center where she was pronounced deceased around 3 a.m. 

No additional injuries were reported. 

Although the blaze was contained to one section of the building, 12 of the 16 units were heavily damaged in the fire. At least six families have been displaced as a result of the incident.

The American Red Cross has offered its help to those in need. The fire caused an estimated $450,000 in damage to the building.

Justin Jarrett was one of those who lost everything. He was sleeping at the time and said he almost didn't make it out of the apartment. However now, he said he has a new perspective of life.   

"I look at it like 'I lost my apartment, but I'm still here.' She [the victim] lost her life," he said. 

Residents said Thompson was a grandmother who was well-known within the community. 

Crews were called back out to the complex Tuesday morning after smoke was seen billowing from the building. Firefighters worked to put out the smoldering embers.