The worst fire to hit this Ohio River city in 50 years has resulted in the deaths of at least nine people. They now believe everyone is accounted for.
The fire started just after 11pm Saturday night at the Emmons Junior and Senior Apartment buildings at the corner of 3rd Avenue and 12th Street.
Huntington Fire Chief Greg Fuller says 24 people were rescued from the windows of the five-story building.
Fuller says crews found three bodies on the building's top floor while fighting the blaze. Fuller says four more bodies were discovered together Sunday morning when search crews returned to the top floor. Fuller says fire crews have had to take their time while searching the floor because the fire caused heavy damage to the area.
We're told 2-3 people are still in the hospital getting treated for injuries sustained during the fire.
Fuller says three firefighters received minor injuries when they went inside the building. Another firefighter was taken to the hospital after he suffered smoke inhalation while trying to rescue someone.
Investigators believe the fire started in an apartment on the second floor. They say firefighters were able to knock the fire down in that unit very quickly, but the fire had already spread to the roof of the building.
Firefighters say the fire is now under control. A search team was able to get inside Sunday morning.
"It's a sad day," said Huntington fire marshal Dave Bias. "I can't say enough as to the sheer will power that the guys put out last night. They affected dozens of saves. It's a real heart breaker to try as hard as you can and come up short."
We're told the fire was contained to the Emmons Junior building--and only smoke got into the Senior building.
A shelter was set up at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena. That's where residents of the apartment buildings and family members are encouraged to go. We're told more than 100 people were in the apartments at the time of the fire.
Emergency crews set up a temporary triage at the Applebee's, and we're told a temporary morgue was been set up at the Salvation Army.
ABOUT THE BUILDINGS: Emmons Junior Apartment building has 64 units that house 2-3 people per unit. Emmons Senior has 32 units.
The buildings provide housing for city residents and Marshall University students.
STATEMENT FROM MARSHALL UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT STEPHEN KOPP:
This tragedy affects both Huntington and Marshall University. Our thoughts and prayers are with those families who lost loved ones in this fire, as well as those survivors who are being treated in nearby hospitals. Any student who has been displaced should call Marshall’s Department of Public Safety at (304) 696-4357 to receive temporary housing in our residence halls.
EMMONS APARTMENT INFORMATION & TO CHECK ON RESIDENTS OF THE APARTMENTS: (304) 526-8491
Stay tuned to NewsChannel 3 and WSAZ.com for the latest.
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