Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

April 29, 2014

Probe reveals origin of Tazewell New Year’s Eve fire is electrical

TAZEWELL,Va. — Electricity was the source of a fire that destroyed a downtown Tazewell building the evening of New Year’s Eve, the Town of Tazewell Police Department announced Monday.

A Main Street building that housed GuRu’s Then & Now, Becker’s Jewel Box & Diamond, a law office, and three apartments was severely damaged by fire the evening of Dec. 31, 2013. The apartment’s residents managed to flee the building, and firefighters from several departments kept the blaze from spreading to adjoining structures.

After an investigation conducted by the Town of Tazewell Police Department with help from the Virginia State Police, the fire was ruled an accident.

“After careful evaluation of the evidence, the New Year’s Eve fire that occurred within the town of Tazewell has been determined to be electrical,” Police Chief DeWitt Cooper said in a statement issued Monday afternoon.

Investigators checked for signs of fire started with accelerants such as gasoline or kerosene.

“We collected evidence to find out if there was any accelerant,” Cooper said.

No signs of flammable fluids were found, and investigators sent by insurance companies also searched for such evidence, he said.

Based on what detectives learned during the search, the fire started at electrical wires located in the back of the building.

Part of Main Street was closed after the fire, but it was reopened in February.

The public has been kept away from the burned structure.

“Now that it’s been determined that it was electrical, we will turn it over to (town) building officials and they will determine how it will be dealt with,” Cooper said.

The Tazewell Fire Department, the Bluefield, Va., Fire Department, Richlands Fire Department, Clearfork Fire Department and other agencies contained the blaze on New Year’s Eve.

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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