Fire guts old Cleveland Chair site
by By GREG KAYLOR, Banner Staff Writer
Dec 08, 2011 | 5274 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
FIRE STILL DANCED inside the nearly century-old brick Cleveland Chair Company structure as Cleveland firefighters look on at the scene of an early morning blaze. Every street around the area was blocked with fire and police apparatus after the fire began just after 4:30 a.m. today. Banner photos, GREG KAYLOR
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Heavy smoke drifted over the city today as Cleveland Fire Department personnel fought the largest local fire of the year. The old Cleveland Chair Company building located on Ninth Street S.E. collapsed as fire raged through the structure.

According to reports, the fire was reported to 911 dispatchers at 4:33 this morning.

Virtually every fire apparatus was on the scene to bring the blaze under control.

Cleveland Fire Chief Steve Haun was on the scene early today helping the shift commander direct firefighters as they battled the fire.

The old building was not in use but a warehouse just south of the main plant was in danger.

Firefighters continued to cool the remains of the brick structure which had collapsed, and doused water on the warehouse area. Ladder trucks and pumpers sprayed water from above.

The Norfolk Southern Railway was temporarily shut down to rail traffic due to heavy smoke, flames and the possibility of the brick walls collapsing onto the tracks.

Train traffic was resumed just before 8 a.m. today after CFD Command reported the fire was under control.

Lt. Donnie Sullivan, fire and arson investigator for the Cleveland Fire Department, said Red Cross personnel were on hand to provide firefighters warm drinks and food after they battled the fire in frigid temperatures.

Cleveland police blocked entry to the scene from every angle. Fire hoses coursed through the streets surrounding the scene.

911 officials reported no injuries due to the fire; however, Bradley County Emergency Medical Service personnel were on the scene as well.

Firefighters were also busy this morning pulling down the jagged brick skeleton of the building which was thought to have been constructed in the early 1900s.

Historical information noted the business started making upholstered chairs in 1914. The building is owned by the Ron Jackson family who operate Jackson-Catnapper which manufactures the Catnapper brand recliner and other furniture, and was more than a block long, according to Sullivan.

The exact dimensions of the structure were not known this morning, nor was a damage estimate available.

Sullivan said Tennessee Bomb and Arson investigators will be traveling to Cleveland today to aid in the investigation into the cause of the fire.

“The remains are still very hot and it could be several days before we can actually get into the scene to begin the investigation,” Sullivan said.

Bradley County Fire Rescue took over city calls for help while CFD firefighters fought the blaze.

According to 911 officials, the Tri-Community and East Ridge fire departments also stepped in to back up Bradley County Fire Rescue, if necessary.

Additional information will be released as it becomes available.