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18 apartments destroyed by fire had complete sprinkler system, records show

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - On the night of May 25, it took just one look through his blinds onto his balcony for Armit Thapa to tell his wife Jakita Shahi to run.

“The fire was already started from the second floor. It was already up ours to the balcony, and he told me, ‘Jakita, run. The fire is already here,’” Shahi said.

What astonished the couple, who lived on the third floor, was how quickly the flames reached them.

“There was no fire alarm, no sprinklers had activated, no fire alarm, no smoke detector had activated,” Thapa said.

Thapa and Shahi are among the residents who lost everything at the fire that gutted 18 apartments at the Brentwood Oaks apartment complex.

Records obtained by News4 Investigates show the building containing the apartments, as well as 16 other buildings in the complex, all were outfitted with sprinklers and had been inspected by a private company in October 2020.

Metro regulates that apartment complex sprinkler systems be inspected each year by a certified company.

One of the reasons Thapa and his wife said they chose the complex was because of the number of sprinklers in the apartment.

“I thought this was one of the safest apartment units or complexes,” Thapa said.

When News4 Investigates contacted the office at Brentwood Oaks, someone who answered the phone directed our questions to the corporate offices with Sentinel.

When News4 Investigates contacted Sentinel, a woman answering the phone said no comment.

A spokesman for the Nashville Fire Department said because of the ongoing investigation, the department could not comment.

News4 Investigates consulted with a national fire investigator who said it is possible for a building with sprinklers to completely burn to the ground.

The investigator, who requested to speak only on background, indicated that the fire could have damaged part of the main sprinkler system and caused it not to work.

The investigator also said the source of the fire and where and how it spread will also be important to determine if the sprinkler system failed.

 
 

Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

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