Flames Engulf Vacant Former Nursing Home in Belmont

Flames tear Wednesday through a portion of the former Bell Nursing Home, located along National Road between Morristown and St. Clairsville. Photo by Kathryn Clayton

BELMONT — Investigators are trying to determine the cause of a fire and possible explosion at the old Bell Nursing Home, 42350 National Road, Belmont, that occurred Wednesday.

The fire was called in to authorities about 3:01 p.m. Belmont Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bob Mills said when firefighters arrived on the scene, the northeast portion of the building was on fire but they were able to keep the flames from spreading to the rest of the structure.

“A witness said they heard a loud ‘pop’,” Mills said. “Allegedly there were squatters using it as a drug house.”

Witnesses at the scene, including neighbors, passersby and employees of the nearby Chapz restaurant, approached the building and called out in hopes of alerting anyone who might be inside. According to Mills, firefighters found no evidence that anyone was inside at the time of the blaze, and no injuries resulted.

Mills said investigators with the Belmont County Sheriff’s Department are examining the scene to determine if an explosion occurred. He noted that when firefighters arrived, doors to the building were not locked. Mills said he was not sure if there was any electric service to the building.

Bethesda police Officer Pete Busack said the nursing home had been closed for several years.

Busack and Officer Josh Williamson were providing traffic control at the scene.

A section of U.S. 40 was closed to traffic near the former nursing home, which is situated between St. Clairsville and Morristown, while firefighters worked to douse the blaze.

The building and property are listed for sale by Harvey Goodman Realtor, though no price was listed on the company’s website. The Harvey Goodman website notes the building was built in 1960 and sits on about 21 acres of land.

In addition to the Belmont VFD, firefighters from Morristown, Barnesville, Lafferty, Bethesda and Cumberland Trail also worked the fire.


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