Fire marshal blames grill for blaze at Nippers Corner condo

Grilling on wood deck or balcony may be illegal

Photo: WKRN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Investigators have ruled the fire at a Nippers Corner area condo was accidental, and it may have been started by a charcoal grill on a wooden balcony.

The fire at the Creekside Condos was fast and fierce. It consumed one condo before spreading to the one next to it and jumping to a neighboring unit.

Witnesses said the condo owner was grilling on the back deck.

Now, a day after the blaze, fire marshals are warning residents grilling on decks at multi-family dwellings that it is against city fire code to do so, though there are some exceptions.

“The decks nowadays are built with wood and the problem with those are whether you have a flare up or you have a grill that spills over and catches that deck on fire, it’s going to spread,” NFRD Assistant Fire Marshal Mike Robinson said.

Photo: WKRN

Robinson said the Metro Council adopted the 2012 edition of the international fire code, which prohibits grills on combustible balconies of multi-family dwellings.

“If you’re building your apartment, your home is built with brick or concrete. you can be 10 feet away,” Robinson said. “If it’s built with wood construction, which is combustible construction, then you are required by the code to be 15 feet away.”

But there are three exceptions.

“One and two family dwellings, which is your normal residential home, the second one is when your buildings, balconies and decks are fully protected with an automatic sprinkler system, and the third exception is when they are using the little two-and-a-half pound tanks you normally see for Coleman camping stoves,” Robinson said.

In a quick look around Creekside Condos, News 2 spotted several grills on wooden balconies, though none were in use at the time.

Several other units received heavy smoke and water damage, but the fire walls between the condos prevented the fire from spreading even more.

With the July 4 holiday next week, fire officials said a lot of people will be firing up the grill.

They encourage people to do it responsibly.

“Please be safe, be careful. We can’t police everybody and tell them that you can’t do this, but if you are going to do it be safe and keep that distance of 10 and 15 feet and please have a fire extinguisher on hand,” Robinson said.

The fire marshal’s office said if you are renting an apartment or condo, it’s a good idea to have basic rental insurance to cover your loss.