By RACHEL C. DOVE
CHATTAROY - A family of four came home late Tuesday afternoon to find the home they rented on Buffalo Creek Road at Chattaroy engulfed in fire, with smoke rolling from under the roof, chimney and out of the windows.
According to Chattaroy Volunteer Fire Department Chief Joe Rumore, his department was dispatched to the structure fire at approximately 2:41 p.m. while on the scene of a two-vehicle accident on Sycamore Mountain, near the Appalachian Power Plant.
A neighbor who made the 911 call for help said she first smelled smoke, and then saw the flames.
Upon arrival at the location, Rumore observed a single level brick home, owned by Brian Marcum, on fire, with the majority of the black smoke coming from the rear portion of the home and the right end, near the chimney. The chief responded with a truck, tanker and six firefighters. Mutual aid was requested from the Williamson and Delbarton fire departments, which provided an additional two trucks and five firefighters. Emergency Services Director Jerrod Fletcher also assisted at the scene.
No one was home at the time of the fire.
As the firefighters were first rolling on the scene, Mingo County Humane Officer, William “Peanut” Queen, happened to be driving through the area when he spotted the flames and smoke from the house, and stopped to see if he could be of any assistance. Queen quickly noticed a cat in the front window of the residence, searching for a means of escape.
Without regards for his own safety, the humane officer entered the dwelling immediately after a firefighter had kicked in the front door and rescued the scared feline.
After checking the animal to make sure it was not injured, Queen took it to the home of one of the neighbors to keep until the owners returned and could care for it. Queen also assessed a dog that was in the yard of the burning home, and asked Marcum, the owner of the rented property who lived next door to the property to untie it and take it to his residence to prevent it from being harmed.
Several individuals at the scene voiced their appreciation for Queen’s unselfish actions that possible spared the family the additional grief of losing pets to the fire.
Chief Rumore told the Daily News that he had requested an investigation as to the origin of the fire by the West Virginia Fire Marshal’s office, and expects someone to be at the property this afternoon. The chief said that although the home is not considered a total loss, he estimates the damage to be somewhere in the vicinity of $35,000, and those numbers could very well increase when the personal property belonging to Doug and Loretta Savage and their two grandsons who rented the home is added into the equation.
“There were a lot of items damaged by water as well as the smoke and fire, but we won’t know the full extent of what can and cannot be salvaged until after the Fire Marshal concludes the investigation,” said Rumore.
“We arranged for the family to receive overnight accommodations through the local chapter of the American Red Cross, and we’re hopeful that area churches, food and clothing pantries and other charitable organizations will step up to assist this family.”
Rumore commented that this was the second time his department has responded to a fire at this particular location, the first being in January of this year when a fire started from a problem with improper ventilation in the chimney.
Several years ago, police were called to this home after a disturbance had occurred between the parents of Marcum, who resided in the home at that time.
Allegations were made that the elderly male who reportedly suffered from dementia had barricaded himself and his wife inside the location and was refusing to allow her to leave or anyone to enter. The problem was diffused without injury to any of the parties involved. Marcum’s parents are now both deceased.
For more information on what the public could do to assist the Savage family, which includes two grandsons ages 8 and 10, contact the Chattaroy Volunteer Fire Department at 304-235-1856.