For the Williamson Daily News

WILLIAMSON - For the second time in less than two years, members of the Logan Street First Baptist Church congregation are praising the efforts of the Williamson Fire Department and surrounding departments for saving their church from destruction.

A structure fire was reported to Mingo County 911 early Friday. The building was located close to two others - one being the church.

WFD was on scene with three trucks and nine men. They requested assistance from the Chattaroy Volunteer Fire Department, who responded with one tanker and three firefighters. Manpower was provided by Matewan Fire Department and Delbarton Volunteer Fire Department to help battle the blaze.

The structure, which was built in the 1920s, was a total loss. According to firefighters on scene, the building was vacant, and there was no electric service.

The owner of the building, who resides out of town, was notified and arrived shortly after the fire was extinguished.

According to WFD Chief Joey Carey, the call came in just before 6 a.m. The first engine company on scene saw heavy fire venting from the downstairs apartment to the upstairs unit. Bystanders on scene advised possible trapped occupants. Firefighters attempted a search while suppressing the fire. The fire quickly spread to the attic space due to the balloon construction.

"I'm very proud of my department and grateful for the assistance we received from our neighboring county departments," Carey said. "This fire had a huge head start on us and posed several obstacles. The structure was a two-story wood framed four-unit apartment complex with a two-story church on one side only inches separating the two. The other side had a two-story six unit apartment situated only five feet away. With absolutely no damage to either of the two."

In addition to the four fire departments and dozens of firefighters, Mingo County Emergency Management Director Doug Goolsby and a crew from STAT EMS were on scene.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by Carey and state fire marshal's office.