HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – Five years ago from Friday, the worst fire in the city of Huntington in half a century ripped through the Emmons Junior Apartment Building.
Nine people lost their lives.
The fire began early the morning of Jan. 13, 2007, in the closet of a second floor apartment of the building on 3rd Avenue.
Crews responded within minutes but were unable to contain the spreading flames. They pulled several people out of windows of the building.
Despite their heroics, nine people died.
"It just weighs heavily on me,” Deputy Chief Brian Grieco said. “We don't want that to happen again."
The Emmons buildings were built in 1924 and didn't have a sprinkler system.
Since the fire, the Huntington Fire Department has added two engines and a tower truck, but due to a reduced city budget, the department has been working with a reduced staff since November of last year.
Grieco says if the department was to receive another such call today, there would be at least three fewer firefighters responding immediately.
"It's a matter of numbers,” Grieco said. “We only have so many crews I can send out. You take any away, it affects it."
The buildings were demolished in October of 2007. Where the apartments stood is now a vacant lot.
The cause of the fire was never determined.