A morning blaze on Eighth Avenue and Elder Streets in Parkersburg sent thick gray smoke billowing for miles.
The Parkersburg Fire Department believes it started in the back of the home. That's where the man living there was apparently trying to thaw out frozen pipes with space heaters.
He left the premises... and the fire started.
"There was substantial fire when they arrived; it was well advanced before we were notified so that created some difficulties," says Chief Eric Taylor. "But then the fire had traveled back up into the attic and the attic had hardboard tongue and groove flooring in it, so we had considerable difficulty accessing the seat of the fire that was up in the attic."
Taylor says they were fighting the fire for a couple of hours and continued having difficulty locating some hot spots. The department called for backup because of the weather conditions.
Parkersburg's bravest put themselves on the line even under the toughest conditions. Officials say with more men out there on a call they can take the time necessary and use calculated risk.
"Our guys were encountering bitterly cold temperatures and they're soaking wet. Their fingers are numb... we have a lot of fall hazards with the ice that's created from the fire this time of year," Taylor says.
The community has stepped in to help the family.
"The gentleman's insurance agent was there when I was leaving, the Red Cross was there," Taylor says. "I believe he's going to be assisting them with some short-term shelter, probably for the next couple of days."
Taylor calls the house a total loss and says consider how you use portable heaters.
"I would caution everyone to use extreme caution, not only with space heaters but they should not be left unattended; there is considerable risk," he says.
No injuries were reported and the PFD is calling the fire an accident.
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