11/10/2013 5:15 PM
by Joe Hellriegel
MARLINTON - A fire in Pocahontas County leaves family and business owners out on the street. Buildings are on fire and smokes fills the air in Marlinton, devastating the town.
"It's as much a tragedy to our town as 911 was to New York City," said Marlinton resident Johnny Quinn. "My son's second cousin was a tenant in one of the apartments and they lost everything, lost all their clothes and all."
The fire that started around 2:30 a.m. Sunday destroyed seven business and displaced 13 families. Marlinton resident William McLaughlin lives across the street from where the fire took place, and says he saw it from the beginning.
"I was getting ready to go to bed and you know coming across the scanner they say a fire at the bank, and the ambulances rolled in and I was there from the time it started until early this morning, and then a crowd starting forming," said McLaughlin.
The scene looked more like a war zone than it does a quiet little town and fire officials say one firefighter was taken to the hospital but under stable conditions.
"He over exerted himself, heat exhaustion and stuff, he was taken to the hospital, he is till there, they say he is doing better at this time," said Durbin Fire Department Chief Buster Varner.
Volunteer fire departments from Webster, Randolph, Greenbrier, Nicholas and Monroe Counties all responded to the fire.
"I couldn't tell you how many fire departments are here and still coming," said Varner.
"It's sad, it's sad, it's a sad situation," said McLaughlin.
Now the town of Marlinton is struggling to pick up the pieces after the loss. The economic impact of the town remains to be seen but with seven downtown businesses lost, the mayor says they have an uphill battle to climb.
"At this point in time, I'm not real sure what's going to happen. It's a disaster in the broadest sense of the word," said Mayor Joseph Smith. "We need portable water because we contaminated the water system getting water to the fire. We are hoping to try somehow to get lodging, permanent lodging housing for the displaced families," said Smith.