MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WKRN) — Firefighters spent Saturday afternoon battling a large fire at an apartment complex in Mt. Juliet, which left one first responder critically injured and residents of more than 20 units displaced.
The Mt. Juliet Police Department (MJPD) said building 400 at Glass Creek Apartments caught fire. Residents of the nearby 500 building were also evacuated as a precaution.
“We were moving in and saw smoke and lightning hit a building and then it was just on fire,” recalled Ely Roberts, who was moving into building 500 at the time of the fire.
City officials said they also believe lightning was the likely cause of the fire.
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Photos from News 2 viewers show the roof of the apartment building engulfed in flames, with heavy smoke rising from the fire.
“The smoke cloud, it went across the whole entire highway to like the other end of the highway,” said Dinara Ibragimova, who is friends with an apartment resident. “It was actually horrible, like the smoke was completely pitch black when we first got here.”
According to authorities, a “reunification/staging area for resources” was set up for displaced residents of the 400 building at the complex Club House.
During a briefing about the blaze, officials said crews responded to the fire around 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 12. However, they faced multiple challenges due to building construction, as well as the fact that the original caller reportedly said the fire was in the 1200 building, but it was later determined the fire was actually in the 400 building.
Then, when first responders arrived at the 400 building, they discovered the fire was on the roof, so the residents inside were unaware of the blaze, according to Capt. Tyler Chandler with the MJPD. Personnel worked to evacuate the occupants as quickly and safely as possible, but the roof started to collapse while three firefighters were inside, injuring one.
“Officers and firefighters were working to save people’s lives, to ensure everyone was out of there, and they put themselves in situations that cause them their own harm, right? They run to the harm when everyone is running away,” Chandler said.
Due to the severity of the firefighter’s injuries, officials said he was put into a police car, taken to Summit ER, and later brought to TriStar Skyline Medical Center, where, as of Sunday, Aug. 13, he is in “critical, yet stable” condition.
Chandler said numerous agencies — including the MJPD, the Mt. Juliet Fire Department (FDMJ), the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency, the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, the Metro Nashville Police Department, and the paramedics on scene — worked together to make sure the injured firefighter got the best medical care possible, even closing the roads from Glass Creek Apartments to Summit ER and then from Summit ER to Skyline Medical Center to transport him.
Justin Beasley, the public information officer for the City of Mt. Juliet, said no injuries or deaths were reported among residents. He also highlighted the role of MJAlert in saving lives over the course of Saturday’s incident.
According to Beasley, Red Cross was already on scene Saturday afternoon to help with housing for the displaced residents from the 24 units in building 400, with city officials ready to help if necessary.
In addition, a number of pets were reportedly rescued from the building, all of whom have been reunited with their loved ones.
Beasley said that although officials think the fire was the result of a lightning strike, the cause is still under investigation.
According to MJPD, crews had to return to the apartment complex Sunday morning to treat hotspots after a small fire rekindled at the 400 building, but they cleared the scene within an hour.
Mt. Juliet Mayor James Maness thanked the city’s emergency response agencies for how they handled Saturday’s blaze, as well as community members and businesses for their offers to assist however they could. He also asked for prayers for the injured firefighter, his family, and his coworkers, along with those who were displaced by the fire.
The city’s official Facebook account even posted photos of Mt. Juliet buildings lit up in red Saturday night as a show of support for the hospitalized firefighter, thanking community members for their kind comments and gestures.
First responders from across Middle Tennessee have posted statements supporting the injured member of the FDMJ:
We join our community in hope and prayer for a full recovery for FDMJ’s injured firefighter. We serve along side these heroes each and every day, and while we may have a different role, we are one large public safety family. Thank you to all of our community members for your support and care for the firefighter.Mt. Juliet Police Department
Sending prayers to the firefighter who is in critical condition from responding to the fire that occurred earlier at the Glass Creek Apartments. May God bless all of those who were affected and know that we are all standing with you during this difficult time.Wilson County Sheriff’s Office
Sending our thoughts and prayers to our brave brothers and sisters at Mt. Juliet Fire Department. #MtJulietFireDepartment #HeroesAmongUsWilson County Emergency Management Agency
Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Mt. Juliet Fire Department along with the community of Mt. Juliet. We wish for a speedy recovery for MJFD’s firefighter and quick relocation for the displaced families from today’s tragedy.Lebanon Police Department
Our thoughts and prayers are with our Fire Department of Mt. Juliet brothers and sisters! #FDMJStrongLebanon Fire Department
Please join us in praying for and with the family of a firefighter from the Mt. Juliet Fire Department. The firefighter was injured today on an apartment building fire incident.
Our thoughts are for healing and strength for the firefighter, their family and the Mt. Juliet Fire Department family.City of Goodlettsville Fire Department
We would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to Mt. Juliet Fire Department as one of their own was injured today while battling an apartment fire. We also want to keep the family in our prayers during this difficult time.Lawrenceburg Fire Department
Please say a prayer for the Mt. Juliet Fire Department and the Firefighter that was critically injured today while fighting a large apartment fire.Pleasant View Volunteer Fire Department
Our thoughts and prayers are with our brothers and sisters of the City of Mt. Juliet Fire DepartmentColumbia Fire and Rescue
Join us in praying for healing for our fellow Firefighter.Nashville Fire Department
Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured firefighter from Mt. Juliet Fire Department and the residents of the Glass Creek Apartment complex.Hendersonville Police Department
Thoughts and prayers go out to the City of Mt Juliet FF that was injured in an apartment fire on Saturday.
We hope for a speedy recovery! Get well brother.Eagleville Fire Rescue Department
Our thoughts are with the Mt. Juliet Fire Department this evening. We pray a speedy recovery for a Firefighter injured in the line of duty.Rutherford County Fire and Rescue
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mt. Juliet FD and the Firefighter that was critically injured today while fighting a large apartment fire.Trousdale County Emergency Services
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mt. Juliet Fire Department and their crews after a firefighter was injured in an apartment complex yesterday.Putnam County Fire Department
Our prayers are with the Mt. Juliet Fire Department this evening as one of their Lieutenants is currently in critical condition after a structural collapse at an apartment fire. We pray for healing, and peace for the entire department.Dallas Bay Fire and Rescue
The FDMJ said it appreciates the overwhelming support and prayers for the wounded first responder, as well as the department as personnel “work through the emotions of what transpired Saturday afternoon.”
“We ask for your continued support and prayers and appreciate the privacy given to the injured firefighters’ family, friends, and coworkers at this time,” Interim Fire Chief Joey Edwards added.
If you would like to make a contribution to the Glass Creek Disaster Relief Fund helping those displaced by the blaze, visit the MJ4Hope website. You can also send checks to MJ4Hope’s mailing address: 1483 N Mt. Juliet Road #175, Mt. Juliet, TN 37122.
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This is a developing story. WKRN News 2 will continue to update this article as new information becomes available.