3 Women Killed in Fire at South Nashville Halfway House Identified; 5 Others Injured
Officials are still working to determine what caused the fire that killed three women who were staying at a halfway house in south Nashville.
According to the Nashville Fire Department, there were not any working smoke detectors or sprinklers inside the home in the 400 block of Southwood Drive.
The three women who were killed have been identified as 22-year-old Kathleen Baird, 36-year-old Tammy Nelson and 35-year-old Elizabeth Lopez.
Police said 15 people were staying at the home, including 12 program residents, two house managers and the juvenile son of one of the managers.
Firefighters rescued the victims from the rear upper room of the home, which had been converted to an area where multiple people could sleep.
The women were transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where they later died. Four other people, including a young girl, were taken to Vanderbilt with non-critical injuries.
According to the Nashville Fire Department, a firefighter was burned on his arm. He is expected to recover.
Click here to watch a Facebook Live video from the scene.
Neighbors said they noticed several women coming and going from this halfway house but did not see anything out of the ordinary. They want to know why there were no smoke alarms inside the house.
“It's been a very quiet situation,” said Ray Dunning, who lives across the street. “We've had - so far as I know - no complaints from the neighborhood. It's a secluded street and very quiet.”
Dunning called the devastating fire "a real tragedy."
“I could see smoke billowing out from under the eaves of the house," Dunning said, describing what he saw when he looked out his window. "And then there was smoke, of course, all the way around."
Dunning saw several residents get rescued from the home and receive CPR. He said the narrow streets caused some difficulty for first responders.
“The ambulances had to park at the top of the hill, and they had to carry (the victims) a long way on the gurney,” Dunning said.
Nashville Fire Department Chief David Christian described the intense smoke inside the house.
“It's totally dark. You're blind when you're going in,” Christian said. “The call came in that we had patients trapped, and firefighters got in there real fast, got the patients out.”
The facility is operated by an organization named Footprints 2 Recovery. According to their website, the Southwood Woman's Home is described as a traditional halfway house. It says the house has five bedrooms, two bathrooms and two living rooms.
The Nashville Fire Department said the house was an unlicensed facility that had never been inspected by the department.
"We never inspected it. We didn't know it was there," said Nashville Fire Department spokesman Joseph Pleasant. "There was never any fire inspection."
The attorney for Phyllis Abuan, the director of Footprints to Recovery, issued this statement on her behalf on Friday morning:
Our hearts go out to the families of the ladies who perished in this tragic event. We ask for continued prayers for these families. This is a huge loss to the recovery community. We are working to find a new residence for the surviving ladies to continue their recovery and sober living. Rest assured that we are fully cooperating with the investigation being conducted into this tragedy.
Nancy Amons with the News 4 I-Team investigated why this halfway house was allowed to operate without working smoke alarms or sprinklers. Amons discovered that officials from the State Fire Marshal's Office had never inspected the home for smoke detectors because the business was never properly registered.
Officials said if the owners of the unlicensed home had followed protocol, the fire could have been prevented.
Detectives with the Metro Nashville Police Department have joined the investigation into the deadly house fire.