Valley Goes To Blazes

WHEELING – Firefighters battled blazes throughout the Ohio Valley on Wednesday, when two structures and a truck went up in flames.

Smoke from a fire at Mount St. Joseph off Pogue Road in Wheeling could be seen from as far away as St. Clairsville around 4 p.m., but access to the area was tightly restricted. Unconfirmed reports indicate a garage at the property, home to Sisters of St. Joseph, was consumed by the blaze. No one from the St. Joseph community could be reached for comment at press time.

An Ohio County fire dispatcher said he had been at the scene prior to his shift. He noted the Clearview Volunteer Fire Department was in charge of the scene and was assisted by volunteers from West Liberty and Triadelphia as well as the Wheeling Fire Department.

Witnesses at the scene said all residents were cleared from the area as firefighters battled the blaze. They believed no injuries had resulted. The private access road to the property was closed during the fire.

The dispatcher said Clearview firefighters remained at the scene at 10:30 p.m., but he declined to provide any further details about the incident. Calls to the Clearview VFD went unanswered late Wednesday.

A short time earlier, a structure fire on the 3100 block of Hamilton Street, Bellaire, sent two people to the hospital and killed two dogs.

According to Neffs Fire Chief John Driscoll, the cause of the Bellaire fire was unknown, but he said it “definitely looks suspicious” in nature. The fire started on the left side of the duplex, which had no working utilities.

Two people were transported to local hospitals as a result, one suffering from minor smoke inhalation and the second, an unidentified woman, from more severe smoke inhalation, Driscoll said.

The house appears to be a total loss, according to Driscoll.

The fire was reported around 2:33 p.m., with Bellaire Police Chief Michael P. Kovalyk and Lt. Donna Baroch first to arrive at the scene. According to Kovalyk, they helped rescue four dogs and three cats from the duplex, which was already engulfed in flames.

The fire also spread to an abandoned home next door to the property, igniting the roof.

A total of 11 dogs were in the house, including seven puppies. All but two of the dogs were still alive when they were pulled from the home. Belmont County Dog Warden Lisa Williams was notified and took possesion of the puppies.

At about the same time in New Martinsville, a truck owned by Equity 1 Exteriors Inc. of Tallmadge, Ohio, caught on fire while waiting at the Russell Avenue traffic light on W.Va. 2. The truck was headed south, having just exited the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge.

Two Equity 1 Exteriors employees were in the 1988 Ford F-350 gasoline-powered truck when they noticed some smoke coming from the truck’s bed area. The driver jumped out and found flames beneath the truck bed.

The two had time to exit the truck and remove some valuables from the cab before the truck was completely engulfed in flames. The truck was a total loss.

The truck was pulling a flat trailer filled with scraps from a roofing job in Ohio. The workers were on their way to the Wetzel County Landfill.

The New Martinsville Volunteer Fire Department responded to the blaze, as did the West Virginia Division of Highways. Traffic was stopped in both directions for about an hour.