3 killed in South Nashville fire; Home was operating as unlicensed recovery program

(Courtesy: Metro-Nashville Police Department)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Three women were killed and five others, including a child and a fireman, were hurt in a house fire Wednesday morning in South Nashville.

The fire was reported around 5:30 a.m. at a home in the 400 block of Southwood Drive. Police said a residential recovery program called Footprints 2 Recovery (footprints2recovery.com), operated at the home.

When crews arrived to the scene flames were visibly coming from the home.

Firefighters rescued three women, Kathleen Baird, Tammy Nelson and Elizabeth Lopez, from a rear upper room of the home that had been converted to sleep multiple people.

The women, who range in age from 22 to 36, were taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center where they later died.

A firefighter was burned while fighting the flames. He was taken to Vanderbilt with non-life threatening injuries to his arm.

Authorities said 12 program residents, two house managers and a juvenile son of one of the house managers were all inside at the time.

Four other people were inside the home and were able to evacuate to safety and were uninjured.

The Nashville Fire Department said the fire started in the basement. A cause has not yet been determined.

“It’s a terrible tragedy it is,” nearby resident Ray Dunning said.

An official with Tennessee Mental Health and Drug Abuse Services confirmed that the residential recovery program was not licensed with the state.

According to the official, the program did not need to be licensed because it was a non-treatment service.

Police said there was no signs of smoke detectors while in the home.

“I know there were several people in the home and working smoke detectors, especially in the middle of the night when everybody is in bed asleep,” Mark Young, President of the International Association of Firefighters said.  “This would have, I think, made the difference in waking the residents.”

Metro police are conducting a criminal negligence investigation along with the Fire Marshal.

Metro Codes has filed to demolish the house.

An inspection report is being compiled. Codes will do a title search and send a letter for an administrative hearing with the owners.

The owners can demolish the property or present a plan to save it.

If codes decides the home should demolished, the owners will have a set amount of time to tear it down or Metro will do it for them.

Only four codes complaints have been filed against the property, all of which were for exterior issues like high grass and weeds.

Footprints 2 Recovery operates three halfway houses, two for women in Nashville, and one for men on the Brentwood side of Davidson County.

The name of the company that owns the halfway house is causing some confusion in the recovery community.  Footprints2Recovery.com, based in Nashville, is not related to a national company, called Footprints to Recovery (footprintstorecovery.com), which operates addiction treatment centers that are licensed and nationally accredited in multiple states.