Deadly Tennessee Apartment Fire involved Disconnected Detector

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - A woman and her brother died Monday in an apartment fire they apparently tried to extinguish themselves, fire officials said.

Firefighters responding to the 7:08 a.m. alarm in the Hixson community located the bodies of Margaret Irene Simons 61, and her brother, George Richard Skipper, 71, on the second floor of the apartment, department spokesman Bruce Garner said.

Fire officials said the only fire detector, located in a downstairs hallway, was disconnected from the battery.

Simons' husband, James Fred Simons, 67, was taken to a hospital for treatment of a minor leg burn.

He told an investigator that when the fire started in the bedroom, he, his wife and her brother all tried to put it out with water. Firefighters found several empty water bottles around the bed, where the fire was located.

``This tragedy might have been averted if the victims had left the apartment as soon as the fire was discovered,'' Chattanooga Fire Capt. Craig Haney said.

The dollar loss was estimated at $5,000.

``The fire really wasn't that big,'' Haney said. ``But it was hot enough and it put out enough toxic smoke to incapacitate the victims.''

An investigation to determine the cause of the fire was continuing.

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