UPDATE: Salvation Army Struggling to Reopen after Fire

By: Jennifer Rizzi, Cathleen Moxley, Anna Baxter Email
By: Jennifer Rizzi, Cathleen Moxley, Anna Baxter Email

UPDATE 3/26/13 @ 6:20 p.m.
SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- An organization with a sole purpose to help others can't get much accomplished until it’s back on its own feet.

The Salvation Army in Summersville was destroyed in a fire Feb. 8. Since then, it continues to hit road blocks.

A crown of thorns, a flag and a podium is just about all that remains from the office in Summersville.

“We kind of figured it would only be a week or so and we'd be back into operation,” Salvation Army Capt. Rob Barber said.

However, more than six weeks later, you can still smell the smoke in the Beckley office. The recovered items are being held there because there's nowhere to put them in Summersville.

The office ran off of money from the thrift store, which also was destroyed in the fire.

With every dime going toward helping others, there's no rainy day fund to begin renting another building.

“People are waiting on us, and we're waiting on our donors. It just becomes a vicious circle where we can't accomplish anything,” Barber said.

The Salvation Army serves about 30 families a month in Summersville, which is about an hour-long drive to the office in Beckley.

“Those families are still there. They still need help with their food. They still need help with utilities. The other churches in the area are having to carry that burden, and they're not prepared to do that either; financially or location-wise,” Barber said.

As a short-term solution, the Salvation Army is working to get a mobile office so they can still meet face-to-face and even make deliveries to those in need.

However, they are still in desperate need for a permanent office in Summersville.

If you would like to help, you can contact its office in Beckley at (304) 253-9541.

There was never enough evidence to rule the fire as arson, but it is still considered suspicious.

UPDATE 2/16/13 @ 6 p.m.
SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Charred carpets, crumbling walls, and powdery ashes greeted cleanup volunteers at the Summersville Salvation Army Saturday afternoon.

Suspicious flames destroyed the group's donation center earlier this month - along with leaders' spirits.

"It's very emotional and devastating," Lt. Susie Tustin said. "It's a loss to our community right now."

Workers from Salvation Army centers across the state and farther came to pitch in with the cleanup - some even coming from Maryland.

They say the common bond to serve unites them as a family, and one group's struggle is felt by all.

"We cam send out a plea to people and they see that we're the same...one Salvation Army everywhere," Major Carolyn Nichols said.

Leaders say they lost $4,000 worth of food and personal care items in the fire and are now struggling just to keep serving.

But they say the hardship won't stop them from helping others facing hardship as well.

"We will not be defeated by fire...we are strong in the Lord and that's what is carrying us through," Tustin said.

Leaders are in the process of looking for a new center. In the meantime, a mobile unit will be parked outside the old building and will continue to serve the community.

You can also contact the Beckley office at (304) 253-9541.

UPDATE 2/8/13 @ 6:20 p.m.
SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The tables have turned for an organization that helps others. After a suspicious fire, the Salvation Army in Summersville is asking for help.

This is the second time the building along Broad Street has caught fire.

It started about 2 a.m. Friday in the back of the building, which is the same spot where a fire started in January 2012. That one was part of a string of arsons in the area.

Along with everything else inside, the Salvation Army had just purchased more than $4,000 worth of food and personal care items to help families in need.

“It's upsetting just to know that somebody doesn't like the Salvation Army,” Capt. Robert Barber said. “It's unusual for us to be in the position of being the victims, but we're still here to help people.”

They’re already looking for another office in town to set up shop.

Anyone who would like to help, or even if you're still in need of help from them, you can contact their Beckley office at (304) 253-9541.
At last check, they were waiting for the state fire marshal to investigate the cause and determine if this actually was another case of arson.

An arrest was made in connection with the string of arsons last year. That man is no longer in jail.

SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A fire has destroyed the Salvation Army building in Summersville.

The fire was reported at 2 a.m. Friday along Broad Street.

Mayor Robert Shafer tells WSAZ.com the fire gutted the building and has put the Salvation Army out of commission in Summersville.

The mayor says the cinder block is still standing, but most of the inside of the building is gone.

Right now, Mayor Shafer is working with the Captain to relocate the Salvation Army so it can once again provide services to the community.

This particular facility was opened five days a week with a store and food pantry available to the public.

"This is a community that needs the services they provide," Shafer said.

Mayor Shafer says the Captain is at the facility on Broad Street trying to salvage any administrative items, but everything was a total loss.

According to the mayor, the State Fire Marshal is on the way to help find what caused the fire. Right now, a cause is unknown.

The Salvation Army has used this building in Summersville as a donation center, store and church for four years. During Friday's fire, the charity lost more than $4,000 of food and other items.

This is the second time a fire has been reported at the Salvation Army in the past year. Back in July, someone started a fire at the facility. That fire only damaged the building.

That fire was reported during a string of arsons last summer in Summersville.

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