TRIADELPHIA - A couple and their two children narrowly escaped a fire that consumed their apartment early this morning just off Peters Run Road in Ohio County.
Located about 3 miles from the Wheeling Volkswagon Subaru car lot, the Howell Lane structure's occupants - Rebecca Marple, her boyfriend Colton Davis and their two children, ages 1 and 2 - heard their doorbell ring and then the sound of an explosion. John Taggart, who lives in a house behind the structure and who is Marple's uncle, said he heard the explosion and then Davis knocking at his door.
"Being a Vietnam vet, I heard that tank blow up and it scared me to death," Taggart said, noting one of the diesel fuel tanks situated underneath the apartment steps split open. "I told him to get those babies out of the house."
Triadelphia resident John Taggart talks about the blaze that consumed this apartment off Peters Run Road early this morning.
Taggart said Davis had arrived home from work about midnight and the fire started a few minutes later. Firefighters fought the blaze until about 4 a.m., he said.
"It's a good thing they were in the kitchen. If they had been in bed, I don't think they would have gotten out," Taggart said of the family.
"The flames shot up 12 to 15 feet. ... They heard the doorbell ring and then ka-boom - the fuel tank exploded."
Taggart said Triadelphia volunteer firefighters responded to the blaze and used one tanker of water, but they had to run a waterline from a hydrant near the Subaru lot to the house. He estimated it took the firefighters 20 minutes to arrive at the scene, noting that by the time they arrived the house was fully involved. Taggart said the town of Triadelphia should install more hydrants along Peters Run Road to prevent another house from burning down again. He said there is no hydrant between the Subaru lot and the Savage Construction property.
"There is only a 2-inch waterline here. You can't install a fire hydrant without a 3- or 4-inch line," Taggart said. "I want Triadelphia and the county to do something about this."
Taggart believes the fire was possibly started by faulty electrical wiring in the apartment, which is connected to his elderly mother's home. While the apartment was heated with electricity, the diesel fuel was used to heat garages underneath.
Taggart said Bethlehem firefighters also responded.
Meanwhile, a family's house on Tiffany Lane in Marshall County was destroyed by fire early Thursday morning. Justin Stocklask of the Moundsville Volunteer Fire Department said four people in were in the house at the time. No injuries were reported. Crews responded to the scene at about 1 a.m. about a mile off of Big Grave Creek Road. Stocklask said the fire was under control in about an hour and there were no significant problems putting out the blaze.
The Marshall County Tanker Task Force also responded to the fire to supply tanks of water to the rural address.
"Out that far, we don't have hydrants," Stocklask said. "We have a fill site and we fill water to a dump tank and shuttle waters so we have a water supply."
Officials with Moundsville VFD said a space heater might have caused the fire, but the incident remains under investigation.