Massive Fire Destroys Huntington Business

By: Mike Waterhouse, Michael Huff, Dave Benton Email
By: Mike Waterhouse, Michael Huff, Dave Benton Email
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Flames lit up the night sky and smoke filled the streets of downtown Huntington Wednesday night when an office building caught fire around 7:15. No one was hurt in the fire.

The back end of Ratcliff Place is gutted and most of the rest of the building has extensive smoke and water damage. The building, located at the southeast corner of 5th Avenue and 10th Street, was formerly called the Stevens Building and housed a pharmacy before being remodeled in the 1990's.

The fire started on the second floor in the Duffield Law Office where a brother and sister were cleaning when they first smelled, then saw smoke. Kara Simmons and her brother became separated but both managed to get out of the building unharmed.

Folks inside Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church, located across the street, were holding Wednesday night services when they saw the fire and called 9-1-1.

Smoke and flames could be seen for several blocks and firefighters had to retreat from inside the building at least twice as conditions inside the building became too dangerous. Tenth Street, as well as parts of 4th and 5th Avenues were blocked for much of the evening by fire trucks and hose lines. The smoke, which at times filled the downtown area, set off alarms at several other downtown businesses as it filtered inside buildings. Firefighters were able to contain the blaze to the Ratcliff Building.

Business owners should be allowed back inside the building sometime Thursday to check out the damage. Firefighters say they believe the fire started in the upper level of the Duffield Law Office. They're still looking for what started the fire.

ABOUT THE BUILDING: It's called "Ratcliff Place" and it's a historic building in downtown Huntington. It was formerly known as the "Stevens Building" and was once home to a pharmacy. It was restored in the 1990's and houses four businesses: Tri-State Eye Care, The Huntington Quarterly, Word House Counseling, and the Duffield Law Firm.

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