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Fire destroys downtown Huntington automotive garage, damages two other buildings

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 3:48 PM EST
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UPDATE 11/24/21 @ 10 p.m.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Just before Thanksgiving, people are left looking for a new place to live after a fire ripped through an auto shop in Huntington and spread next door to an apartment building.

The call was reported a little after 3:30 Wednesday afternoon at Wooten’s Garage in the 1400 block of Third Avenue.

Smoke could be seen from miles away, and Huntington Fire Department Chief Jan Rader says maybe it’s a Thanksgiving miracle nobody was hurt.

Marshall student Gordon Blizzard lives across Third Avenue from the scene of the fire.

“I heard a loud bang and then I heard some crashes,” Blizzard said. “I went outside, and it was hot. You could feel it. I heard screams of people running out of the house.”

Chief Rader says a couple mechanics were working at the garage when they saw the fire and tried to extinguish it themselves, but they realized they couldn’t and then got out safely.

Flames spread to a neighboring insurance office that had closed earlier in the afternoon and an apartment building. Rader says the seven people in the apartments all got out unharmed.

Dickie Anderson retired from the Huntington Fire Department five years ago and now owns Jewel City Seafood, a block from the scene of the fire.

People went into his business and told him about the fire.

“I went over and called 911 on the way over,” Anderson said.

A passerby recorded a video of the retired firefighter going into the apartment building to try to make sure everyone got out safely.

“It was a risk, but it was a calculated risk,” Anderson said. “Myself and three other people, neighbors, went into the building, and searched around.”

Anderson says he searched all three floors and told people inside they needed to get out.

“There were people mingling on the first floor,” he said. “I told them they probably needed to evacuate the building. It was filling with smoke pretty bad by then.”

Anderson says he wanted firefighters to be able to concentrate on putting the fire out rather than worrying about a search and rescue.

“If everybody is out of the fire, that means the guys showing up to fight the fire, that’s one less thing on their plate to worry about,” he said. “That’s kind of what was going through my head.”

The fire marshal is investigating the cause.

UPDATE 11/24/21 @ 5:35 p.m.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Huntington Fire Department Chief Jan Rader released more details about a massive fire that destroyed Wooten’s Garage in the 1400 block of Third Avenue and extensively damaged two other buildings Wednesday afternoon.

She called it a “Thanksgiving miracle” that no one was hurt or killed in the massive blaze that damaged an adjacent apartment building and insurance office. The chief said seven people managed to escape the apartment building, a large house converted into apartments, and two people got out of Wooten’s Garage safely. The insurance office was closed at the time.

Multiple vehicles inside Wooten’s Garage were destroyed.

Rader said crews could remain at the scene overnight to watch out for a possible rekindle. Just before 5 p.m., flames could still be seen coming from the roof of the apartment, but firefighters had contained the overall fire by that time.

Crews fight a massive fire along Third Avenue in downtown Huntington.
Crews fight a massive fire along Third Avenue in downtown Huntington.(WSAZ with permission)

The cause of the fire is unknown.

According to the chief, the call came in at 3:39 p.m. Flames and billowing smoke could be seen for miles.

Third Avenue remains closed to traffic at Hal Greer Boulevard (16th Street).

Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest information.

ORIGINAL STORY

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Emergency crews are responding to a large fire reported Wednesday afternoon along Third Avenue in Huntington.

Flames are showing in the 1400 block of Third Avenue at the business Wooten’s Garage.

Officials confirm flames have spread to nearby structure along Third Avenue. People were seen running from an adjacent home. The fire broke out before 4 p.m.

Below are several videos sent to WSAZ.com:

Heavy black smoke can be seen for miles.

3rd avenue fire huntington
3rd avenue fire huntington(WSAZ)

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Below are a few pictures sent to WSAZ.com from viewers:

Large fire fight in downtown Huntington in the 1400 block of 3rd Avenue.
Large fire fight in downtown Huntington in the 1400 block of 3rd Avenue.(WSAZ)
Large fire fight in downtown Huntington in the 1400 block of 3rd Avenue.
Large fire fight in downtown Huntington in the 1400 block of 3rd Avenue.(WSAZ)

Below is video from WSAZ’s West Virginia Lottery weather camera of downtown Huntington Wednesday afternoon.

No further details have been released at this time.

Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest information.

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