Several electrical attic fires reported over the past decade at West Knoxville apartment complex

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The West Knoxville apartment complex that burned Monday has been the site of several fires in recent years. Like Monday’s fire, some of them started in the attic. This week’s fire put more than 20 people out of their homes, but no one was hurt.

A former resident of Sunflower Apartments says when she lived there several years ago, there was a fire in her attic. Fire incident reports at the Sunflower Apartments dating back to a little more than a decade ago show there have been multiple electrical fires in their attics.

There have been five building fires at Sunflower Apartments in West Knoxville since 2003. Three of those fires were located in the attics of various buildings at the apartment complex like Monday’s fire. The fires happened in 2003, 2009 and 2011.

The report from 2003 states: “Upon arrival firefighters found smoke venting from the attic area. After accessing the attic area…firefighters found the fire in and around the HVAC unit and insulation.”

There was a similar fire five years ago. During that one, “firefighters had to request full alarm due to smoke and heat in the attic area. Fighters found a structural member in the attic burnt through at the electric box for the attic mounted air HVAC”.

The fire that happened in 2011 was accidentally started by maintenance workers in the attic.

Knoxville Assistant Fire Chief Danny Beeler says his team is investigating this trend of fires at Sunflower Apartments.

“We have a program that allows us to look at the history and if we do see a pattern then of course we’re going to look into it and see if we can remedy that situation,” said Beeler.

Sunflower Apartment managers say they cannot comment on whether they plan on doing anything to combat the fire trends in their attics. They say right now they’re worried about taking care of their residents.

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