Dozens homeless after apartment complex burns for hours in Hickory Hill

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Nearly a dozen people have lost their homes – many of them have lost everything – after an overnight fire at the Arbors at Hickory Ridge Apartment Complex off Knight Arnold Road.

FOX13’s Winnie Wright spoke exclusively to a survivor,  who said this fire and it’s effects could have been avoided.

“Innocent people try to work hard to get your own stuff, and for what? Cause it’s all gone,” fire survivor Jessica Thomas said, weeping.

She was watching TV Saturday morning around 4:00 when she heard a commotion in the next apartment.

Thomas said, “It just made me go look outside. So I come out my apartment door and I see fire. I get my mom, my brother, my pops. I’m like, ‘It’s a fire, get out of the house.’ My mom was trying to grab stuff but I’m just thinking, I don’t know how long this fire’s been going. The flames are big. We need to get out of the house.”

She then went to warn her neighbors.

“I come back out and I’m looking at the neighbors that started the fire with their TVs and lamps, and I’m like, ‘so y’all grabbed y’all’s TVs but didn’t try to wake us up,” said Thomas.

Management told FOX13 the residents were grilling on the patio.

MFD said the fire started right in building 12 on the second floor. The BBQ grill they say was to blame was still there on the patio Saturday mid-morning. Everything around it burned to a crisp. They said the fire moved towards the back of the building, where fire crews were still putting out embers at 10 a.m.

Thomas said MFD had a hard time getting to water, giving the fire time to grow.

“The apartments had the water pressure off, so they had to go all the way on Knight Arnold just to get the water,” Thomas said as she pointed far down the busy roadway indicating where firefighters were able to tap in.

I asked Tameca Parker, with the parent company, PAC Housing Group why the water pressure would be cut off.

“Water pressure wouldn’t be turned down,” she answered. Adding, “If we have a leak or something like that, we would call a plumber and they’d have to turn the water off in order to fix the leak. That would be the only time we’d turn the water off or something like that.”

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The Thomas family lost everything, escaping with nothing but their car keys and the clothes on their backs. They are working with The Red Cross on next steps.

“That stuff can be replaced, but their lives can’t. I’ve got one mom. If something would’ve happened to her. That would have torn me apart,” Jessica said finally, wiping her eyes.

PAC Housing Group, the complex’s parent company says they are giving the survivors a 5-night hotel stay. Those who want to stay will be relocated. Deposits will be returned to those who don’t.

We reached out to the Memphis Fire to ask about Thomas’ concerns regarding firefighters’ inability to access to water.