‘Home Sweet Home’ | Hundreds of people returned to Summit Towers apartments after they were evacuated

After a small fire disabled an apartment complex elevator on Tuesday, hundreds of people had to evacuate. Some residents say they are happy to have their apartment back.

Knoxville, Tenn. – Residents of Summit Towers were able to return to the building on Saturday after many had to evacuate due to safety concerns following a small fire. Moisture from a sprinkler system disabled the elevator system, preventing many residents from entering or exiting the building.

Most are elderly and need extra care to get around. They depended on the elevator to go up and down to their rooms.

Millennia Housing Management said at least one elevator was back in working order on Saturday and the fire marshal approved the building’s reoccupation.

“We express our gratitude to the American Red Cross Disaster Program at the Jacob Building for providing shelter, food and emotional support, and to the Knoxville Fire Department, Knoxville Area Transit, ‘University of Tennessee and to the wider community for their care, concern and support,’ they said in a letter to residents.

Resident Jeff Hicks said he was so happy to be back in his apartment.

“Home sweet home. Glad to see my TV and my bed,” he said. “They helped us a lot and made us feel comfortable.”

Hicks said he was pleased with the help of the volunteers who stepped up and helped them.

Other residents were equally excited to return to their apartments, but some looked forward to reuniting with their pets.

“It was heartbreaking because I wasn’t with my pet,” resident Chris Surrett said. “Young Williams and animal control took very good care of him. [Surrett’s cat.]”

After spending time in the makeshift Red Cross shelter at the Jacob Building, resident Cherry Bradshaw breathed a sigh of relief to be back at the apartment.

“I thought we were going to have snow,” Bradshaw said. “I was like, ‘Oh my word, so I’m thrilled.'”

Many residents said they were grateful to the volunteers who took care of them throughout the week.

“It was really good, they were super good to us,” Bradshaw said.

However, many people raised concerns about security in the building, saying they had encountered problems with the building before. Summit Towers staff declined to comment on the situation.

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