Several area fire departments were called to the scene of two different fires in Summers County Tuesday morning, both of them at residences in Hinton. They started 20 minutes apart and were located just three blocks away. The second one swept through a stretch of town houses called "the Brick Row" and left many without a place to call home. The two structures are total losses. No one was injured in either fire, but Hinton Police called both of them acts of arson.
"Somebody was pounding on the door at 2:00 a.m. saying get out, get out, it's on fire. It was two houses down, but the roof was already on fire," said Melissa Sprague, a resident of "The Brick Row."
Seven departments rushed to the scene at about 1:55 Tuesday morning, including every volunteer station in Summers County.
"We needed a lot of hands tonight," said Hinton Chief Ray Pivont, "It got away from us. It got into the attic and it ran the attic and we couldn't do anything with it."
Sprague, a mother of three, lost everything in the fire that consumed about ten apartments on Temple Street.
"I moved in five days ago, now I don't have nothing, no clothes, what I got was on my back. Everything's gone," she said.
Chris Fox lived there too.
"I woke up, smoke was covering my face, couldn't see a thing, couldn't hardly breathe, got the baby and my girlfriend out of the house that's all I could do. You can replace the material things, you can't replace somebody's life. That's all I was worried about."
It's not his first go-around with tragedy. This is the third time Fox has had to start over because of a fire.
"Must have some bad luck or something, that's all I can figure," Fox said.
As for the fire's cause, Chief Pivont said it's just too early to tell, but they're investigating. For now, the building's tenants have to find other places to stay.
"It's all I can do," said Fox, "hopefully the Red Cross will help us out."
Hinton Police arrested a man they believe is responsible for the two fires that were set Tuesday. Billy Gill, 25, of Hinton, was charged with first degree arson, a felony. Additional charges are expected. Gill is in Southern Regional Jail. Chief Derek Snavely said that with the help of the West Virginia State Fire Marshal's Office, his officers were able to find enough evidence to make an arrest.
Hinton City Officials are currently working on bringing in help for those who lost their homes. Stick with Newswatch for more on how you can help as soon as the information becomes available.
ORIGINAL STORY (3:40 a.m.):
HINTON - Fire crews in Summers County battled two different fires in Hinton.
The first happened at 1:24 a.m. on the 100 block of 5th Avenue. Dispatchers said it was a residence. The Hinton Fire Department responded.
The second happened at 1:55 Tuesday morning, 21 minutes after the first fire, on the 800 block of Temple Street. Dispatchers said multiple structures are consumed due to the proximity of the buildings. From what Newswatch was told, it's a townhouse complex where many apartments are all attached. Eight crews responded including: the Hinton Fire Department, Sandstone Volunteer Fire Department, Summers County Volunteer Fire Department, Forest Hill Volunteer Fire Department, J.B. Nimitz Volunteer Fire Department, Pipestem Volunteer Fire Department, and Talcott Volunteer Fire Department. According to Summers County Emergency Services, that's every single volunteer fire department in the county.
Summers County EMS was also called to the scene. It's unknown if there's any injuries at this time.