Fire sparks in Coal House
By JULIA ROBERTS GOAD Staff Writer
As darkness fell Monday evening the acrid sent of smoke still clung to the air throughout downtown Williamson following a morning blaze more than 12 hours earlier inside one of West Virginia's most unique landmarks.
A fire ignited inside the Coal House damaging the interior severely. However, the signature facade of the building received minor damage.
The building is home to The Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce office. It is constructed of coal as a tribute to the mineral which is the backbone of the local economy. Built in 1933, it is listed on National Register of Historic Places. In addition to being the home of the Chamber, it is also the Williamson Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The Williamson Fire Department responded to a call shortly before 6 a.m. Monday that the building was on fire.
The Department responded with three engine companies and an aerial truck. A brigade of 13 firefighters turned out to the scene, according to Chief Jerry Mounts. He said they were able to get the fire under control in 12 minutes.
While the Coal House received extensive damage to its interior, the WFD was able to save the exterior of the building.
Citing the historical significance of the building, Chief Mounts contacted the West Virginia Fire Marshals office. They sent investigator Paul Gill immediately, who was able to rule out arson.
We dont know what started this fire, Mounts said. But the investigator ruled out any incendiary device.
In addition to the contents of the structure, which was a total loss, the interior framing was destroyed, Mounts said.
All three Mingo County Commission members and Williamson Mayor Darrin McCormick were at the scene of the fire. Over the past year, the commission had used Governors Community Participation Grant Program money to install a new heating and cooling system and put a new roof on the structure. Chamber of Commerce and Williamson CVB Executive Director Natalie Young and local volunteer Deborah Young had added new paint and dcor to the inside of the Coal House.
Commissioner John Mark Hubbard said that the county commission has insurance on the structure while the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce board of directors carries a policy on the contents. Yet, he cited the value of the Coal House is more than its monetary value.
We love this building not only because it brings people to our area, but because it is a testament to the work and contributions of the people who provide energy to our world on a daily basis, Commissioner Hubbard said. To have lost it completely would have been a great tragedy.
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