Last Thursday afternoon, crews from Marlinton Volunteer Fire Department, Hillsboro Volunteer Fire Department, Bartow-Frank-Durbin Volunteer Fire Department and Shavers Fork Fire and Rescue converged on Second Avenue in Marlinton to fight a house fire.
According to Marlinton fire chief Herbie Barlow, the fire began in the kitchen and quickly rose from the first and second floor to the attic before spreading to the rest of the house.
“The exact cause, I don’t know, but it started in the kitchen, traveled up the back wall, got into the attic and there were no fire breaks in the attic, so the first that got on scene, they had flames showing on three sides,” he said. “With a large, two-story home, the fire was contained, it was just the overhaul that took a longer amount of time.”
The crews peeled back the tin from the roof in order to access the fire and to stop it from spreading further. Although there wasn’t a threat of the fire spreading to the house next door, the crews attacked the fire from all sides in order to keep it contained.
“Most of the fire was on the left and the rear,” Barlow said. “The kitchen had a tongue-and-groove ceiling which made it like a brick oven, so that’s why all the damage was there, and I would say the fire had to have been burning for some time before it was noticed.”
Despite efforts, the house was a total loss due to structural damage to the roof and interior.
“Once it got in the roof, without any firebreak in the roof, it just went all over the house,” Barlow said. “A fire break would be a sheet of plywood, just keeping it from going all the way through the house. When you’ve got your studs in the walls, that’s a firebreak going left to right, but a lot of times, if you put a two-by-four across vertically, even though it’s wood, it still doesn’t let the fire burn freely up through the studs.”
While the fire was in a structure near the Marlinton department, two stations are always automatically called out to a fire. The additional two were requested for manpower, Barlow explained.
“The reason we kept requesting more stations was the heat and the guys working,” he said. “We called for assistance for manpower, not equipment. It was just extra men that we needed.”
It is also required to have an ambulance on scene, even if there aren’t any people inside the house, which was the case with this fire.
“They’re there for us,” Barlow said. “Anytime we have a guy going inside that’s on [oxygen], when they come out, they have to go to what we call rehab and that’s what the EMS folks were there to do. They check our blood pressure and our pulse. If our blood pressure or pulse are elevated, they’ll put us in time-out for a little bit until our pulse rate drops. They hydrate us and have food or snacks for us if it’s an ongoing fire.”
The fire was extinguished by approximately 6:30 p.m. and the Marlinton crew returned that night to make sure there wasn’t a flare up.
“It’s a bad loss for the family, but nobody was hurt,” Barlow said. “Possessions can be replaced or be fixed.”