Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

December 20, 2013

Firefighters from the two Bluefields battle Stadium Drive structure fire

BLUEFIELD — A fire of unknown origin at a Stadium Drive apartment building/business location kept city firefighters on the scene for nearly 10 hours on Thursday.

The Bluefield Fire Department received a call for “smoke in the area of the intersection of Stadium Drive and Cherry Street,” Captain Richard Hodge of the Bluefield Fire Department said.

“The first report was that the smoke was coming from one of the buildings across from the laundromat, so I thought it was either the old Bluefield Armature building or the apartment building,” Hodge said. “By the time we rounded the curve below the hospital, I could see it was coming from the apartment building.”

The fire department received the call at 3:50 a.m., and were on the scene by 3:57 a.m., according to Hodge. “We had smoke pushing out of every crevice of the building when we arrived,” Hodge said. “The barometric pressure outside kept the smoke down just above the street. It was a thick, choking smoke. You couldn’t go anywhere near the building without a breathing apparatus on.”

When he saw the size of the fire and the extent that it had already grown, Hodge said that he paged out all off duty personnel and called out Bluefield, Va., Volunteer Fire Department as well. Bluefield City Manager Jim Ferguson said that the city and the town of Bluefield, Va., have a R.I.T. (Response Intervention Team) agreement with Bluefield, Va., to provide additional personnel when and if the need arises.

“We were able to determine that the fire was in the C-side of the building,” Hodge said, making reference to the rear of the building. “We went in through a door in the back to fight the fire, but it was below us and we were pushed back out several times.” Firefighters used the water cannon on top of the ladder truck to put water down on the fire.

“For what we had, it could have been on the ground,” Hodge said. “We did save the garage that was attached to it.” Hodge said that there were no injuries in the fire, but some of the firefighters had inhaled smoke while fighting the fire.

The ground floor of the building (1259 Stadium Drive) had previously housed Bluefield Cablesystems, and was briefly home to a trophy shop after the cable company moved to Leatherwood Lane. The upper floor was known as Stadium Drive Apartments (1261 Stadium Drive) and included six apartments. The business section had been closed for a few years and Hodge said he understood that the apartments were all vacant.

“The building has changed hands recently,” Hodge said. “I haven’t had time to talk with the new owner yet.” The fire department cleared the scene at 1:28 p.m., nine hours and 38 minutes after receiving the call to the fire.

“Because of the size of the building and the size of the fire, I’ll probably call the State Fire Marshal’s office in to investigate and maybe find an origin,” Hodge said.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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