Firefighters fight three vacant property fires

Firefighters in Huntington have fought three vacant property fires in the past few days.
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 6:47 PM EDT
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - On Monday, the fire started a little after 2 Monday morning in the 300 block of Richmond Street in the Guyandotte area of Huntington.

Firefighters say the fire spread from an abandoned home to another abandoned home next door.

Huntington Fire Marshal Capt. Mat Winters said the cold snap in temperatures is likely to blame.

“People are trying to survive, and they don’t always take the safest actions or go where the resources are. They take some actions in their own hands and create unsafe situations,” Capt. Winters said.

It’s the third fire in three days.

Saturday, windy conditions created a challenge for firefighters along Adams Avenue.

Heavy smoke filled Washington Avenue on Sunday.

Huntington Fire Chief Greg Fuller ordered an emergency demolition of the commercial building along Washington Avenue.

Winters said the three properties were all vacant.

“All the buildings have a common feature, we know that they may have squatters that may come and go, broken windows and damage,” Winters said.

The city maintains two lists to tackle vacant properties.

A city spokesperson said two of the buildings which caught fire were on the city’s unsafe building list.

The Unsafe Buildings List, sometimes known as the demo list, deals with properties deemed a nuisance or dangerous by city officials.

If the city receives a complaint about a property, the owner is summoned to appear in front of the Unsafe Buildings Commission.

The commission decides if the property can be salvaged with renovations. Owners must complete the renovations within a specific timeline.

The property can be slated for demolition if the owners do not want to make renovations.

“The fires this weekend we are still actively investigating and we’ll do our due diligence as well, but these were all vacant or abandoned buildings known to us,” Capt. Winters said. “Properties we are working through the Unsafe Building Commission and with the property owners.”

The cause of the fires remain under investigation.