Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

October 5, 2012

Fire guts Bluefield residence

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — Click here for video of blaze

Friends and family could do nothing but offer comfort and watch Thursday afternoon as fire destroyed a Bath Street home.

Mercer County 911 was alerted 3:23 p.m. about a structure fire at 111 Bath Street near the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge in Bluefield. A plume of black smoke could be seen across the city as the Bluefield Fire Department battled the blaze. Smoke poured from the burning home as water was sprayed into the structure. A live electrical wire sparked and crackled like fireworks until the power was cut off.

Cathleen Williams, 33, could only watch with tears in her eyes as her home burned. Her family rented the house and had lived there since February. Her mother and four children lived there as well, she said.

William said she was in an upstairs room with two of the children when she smelled smoke coming from downstairs. The rest of the family was not at home. Realizing the house was burning, she immediately grabbed the children and fled.

“I went out the back door because the smoke was coming up the stairs,” she recalled. “I couldn’t even see the steps, there was so much smoke.”

Williams said she was not sure where or how the fire started, adding that she had been home for 30 minutes and had not turned on a stove or even a television. The home and its contents were a total loss.

“I never knew how serious a house fire was until now, because you lose everything,” Williams said as she watched.

Fire fighters worked to keep the blaze from spreading to neighboring homes. Leonard Johnson, 60, who lives nearby, watched the flames lick toward his son’s home at 115 Bath Street. The fire had not spread to the house. Ashes rained down with mist from the fire hoses, and the air smelled of smoke.

“No, I hope to God it didn’t,” Johnson said. “Look at the heat coming off that.”

Members of the Green Valley-Glenwood Volunteer Fire Department and the Bluefield, Va., Fire Department were also dispatched to the scene. The Bluefield Rescue Squad was also dispatched along with personnel from Appalachian Power.�