Martins Ferry Firefighter Hurt Battling Bellaire Blaze

BELLAIRE — Officials are investigating a suspected arson fire in Bellaire that injured a Martins Ferry firefighter early Tuesday.

Bellaire Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ricky Smith said firefighters arrived on scene about 6:15 a.m., where there already was smoke and fire showing at a vacant house in the 3700 block of Monroe Street. Based on video surveillance from homes in the area,

Smith believes a man set the house on fire.

Smith added it is possible the same person is responsible for two other suspicious fires that occurred in the village last month — one on Dec. 16 on Trumbull Street and another Dec. 23 on 36th Street.

While battling the fire, Smith said Martins Ferry VFD firefighter Cody Goff fell off a ladder and was injured. Smith believes Goff may have injured his ankles, but he was not sure of the extent of Goff’s injuries.

Acting Bellaire Police Chief Richard “Dick” Flanagan said he was preparing to have the video surveillance placed on a computer disk for further inspection. He declined to comment on the details of the surveillance video.

“We do have evidence. As soon as we can lift that off there I can elaborate even more,” Flanagan said.

Flanagan said until a suspect is caught, residents should keep the areas around their homes lighted.

“The cheapest and best deterrent is light,” Flanagan said.

For example, those without floodlights or motion-detection lights on their property should leave front and back porch lights on at night.

“A firebug is a firebug. They watch and they pick their targets. … If you see something, say something,” Flanagan said, adding that people should call the police station at 740-676-3322 if they see suspicious activity.

Regarding fighting the fire, Smith noted the below-freezing temperatures did not make battling the blaze any easier.

“It changes everything. Everything turns to ice. The trucks were freezing. We had no water for 15 minutes because the hydrants were frozen,” Smith said.

Spirit of ’76 Volunteer Fire Department crews and the Belmont County Tanker Task Force also responded.

Engleman said because hydrants were frozen, the tanker task force had to relay water to the scene using 1,200 feet of additional hose connected to a working hydrant.

“We did the best could under the circumstances. We had a lot of good teamwork today,” Engleman said.