Chapmanville firefighters respond to two fires; one claims life

Debbie Rolen drolen@civitasmedia.com

January 8, 2014

CHAPMANVILLE, W.Va. — Chapmanville Fire Chief Tom Perry and firefighters answered two calls back to back Monday night, one of which claimed the life of a 91-year-old woman.

Firefighters braved the sub-zero temperatures to battle both blazes. The bitter cold made it difficult for firemen to fight the fires in the extremely cold weather.

Chief Perry said the first call came in at 8:11 p.m. and was for a residence on Airport Road, which was the home of Rick Lowe, who owns the Chapmanville Foodland.

Perry believes a heating unit in the attic may have sparked that blaze.

“Mr. Lowe had exhausted three fire extinguishers before we got there. They got out safely, but there was significant damage to the house.”

The Henlawson Fire Department assisted Chapmanville on that call.

Chief Perry said they returned to the station at 11 p.m., then got the call out to the residence at Striker Fork Road at 11:17 p.m.

“The flames were confined to the middle of the trailer, but there was smoke and heat throughout. I spent the morning at the scene with a state Fire Marshall. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.”

The Lincoln - Harts Fire Department assisted with that call.

Chief Perry said that due to the ongoing investigation, he could not release any additional information on the incident.

Investigators released information to media outlets that confirm Claire Dingess, 91, is the woman who died as a result of the fire. According to the report, an assistant state fire marshal said Dingess was pulled from her living room and taken to Logan Regional Medical Center, but did not survive.

The weather is making efforts to determine what caused the fire even more difficult, given the freezing temperatures and everything freezing once water was put on the fire.

A smoke detector was found in the home, but it’s unclear yet whether it was working.