The end of 2013 was a very busy time for the fire departments in Pocahontas County. In October, departments were dispatched to the bridge at Cheat Mountain for an accident involving a log truck and the Cheat Mountain Salamander train. Then, in November, three buildings on Main Street in Marlinton went up in flames and the fire departments geared up again and fought the fire and smoke off and on for four days.
As a way for the county to thank the firemen and to help raise money for the departments, Pocahontas Episcopal Ministries and GoMarlinton organized the Firemen Appreciation Bash which was held at the Pocahontas County Opera House Sunday.
The event raised $3,601.86.
“We wanted an opportunity to say thank you to all the fireman of this county for all that they do in the cold, in the middle of the night,” GoMarlinton’s Gail Hyer said. “No matter what, they come out and they help us. Sometimes, it’s just nice to have a big woo-hoo.”
Firetrucks, an ambulance and fallout gear were on display – each bearing a price tag which showed how costly is it to equip the departments.
A new ladder truck costs $750,000, and fallout gear for one fireman costs $2,537.73.
Describing the pieces of equipment and the importance of each one, Cass Volunteer Fire Department pump operator David Sharp recalled the harrowing days of the fire in Marlinton.
“It started Saturday night,” Sharp recalled. “We got here about 4:30 a.m. I brought our pumper truck. It can hold four thousand gallons of water in it and I hauled twenty-six loads. I was at Edray, the river, Fran Manor getting water.”
Sharp was one of several firefighters on scene for 36 hours straight, which wasn’t unusual for the 38-year veteran of several fire departments.
“I’ve been with different fire departments,” he said. “I’ve been with Preston County, Grant County and Pocahontas County.”
Sharp explained that it is hard to estimate how much money a fire department spends on each call, but it adds up quickly.
As an example, he said if a pumper truck is running and the pressure is cranked up, the operator would have to fill the diesel truck every eight hours that it is being used.
More equipment was on display in the Opera House, including one piece that stood out among the rest – a fire hose nozzle that was melted and distorted during the fire in Marlinton. It is now mounted on a plaque with the date as a reminder of what can happen during a fire.
The event included entertainment by the Elk River Ramblers, The Hefner Family and Juanita Fireball and the Continental Drifters. Food was provided by the Foxfire Grille and Pocahontas Episcopal Ministries, and was prepared by Tim McGinn of the Foxfire Grille and Blair Campbell of the Pretty Penny Café.
Preserving Pocahontas displayed a slideshow of photos from fires in the county, including the Marlinton High School fire, the 1968 fire on Main Street in Marlinton and the most recent Marlinton fire.
Items were donated for a silent auction by the following: Pocahontas County Community Wellness Center, Johnny’s Garage, Dairy Queen, Edray Kwik Stop, C.J. Richardson, Sharp’s Country Store, Snowshoe Mountain Resort, The Ski Barn, Gunter’s General Store, Pocahontas Pharmacy, Old Spruce Café and Tavern, Mountain Quest, Camp Barefoot, Camp Hidden Meadows, Tim and Gillian McGinn, Pendleton Community Bank, Glades Hardware, Preserving Pocahontas, Rite Aid employees, Dollar General, Karen Dunbrack and Celebrating Home, House of Style, Rene White, Simply Stones, Lewisburg Chiropractic, BrenWood Forge and Broom, Foxfire Grille, Flower Paradise Florist, Holder Downs and Bob and Deena Minghini.
At the end of the event, Father Jim Lantern and Tim McGinn presented $3,601 to Marlinton Fire Chief Kenny Hall and J.P. Duncan. The money will be divided among the fire departments in Pocahontas County.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org