Firefighters Battle Blaze, Heat

WHEELING – City firefighters fought flames and smoke plus the high heat and humidity as they battled a stubborn house fire at 86 31st St. in South Wheeling on Saturday night.

As crews arrived, they encountered heavy smoke and fire. An even more critical situation developed as live electrical lines were arcing at the rear of the building, eventually falling to the ground in a heap of flames.

Assistant Fire Chief Larry Murphy immediately called additional pumpers to the scene as the burning house was located just a few feet from another home on the block. American Electric Power was notified to send workers to cut off the electricity to the house and burning wires.

No one was in the house when fire crews arrived, however a cat was believed to have been inside. A bystander said she saw “sparkles” behind the house and thought it was fireworks. She said then she saw the smoke and flames.

Murphy said the same structure was the scene of a fire several months ago. He said there appeared to be some renovation work taking place inside the house. The cause of Saturday’s blaze was not immediately known.

At one point, all firefighters were ordered to leave the building and fight the fire from the exterior. Conditions inside the building were too dangerous to continue the interior attack, Murphy said.

Fire Chief Larry Helms also reported to the scene, the second house fire in just a few days. Engines 2, 5, 4, Rescue 1 and Ladder 1 were on the scene.

Police were called to the scene to direct traffic around the fire equipment. There was a report of vehicles running over fire hose when fire crews first arrived.