The Times West Virginian

December 5, 2013

Two escape before fire destroys home on Burnt Cabin Road

By Debra Minor Wilson
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — “God will take care of me.”

Even as firefighters from eight units from two counties fought the blaze that was consuming the mobile home on Burnt Cabin Road she shared with her brother, Leah Snodgrass remained calm.

Sitting in a black chair in front of her daughter's home, she admitted she was a little shaky, but other than that, she knew she was lucky.

Things could have been disastrous.

The house was gone, she knew, and everything inside it.

But they were just things. And things can be replaced.

“God was looking out for me,” she said.

Her brother was out in the kitchen, making himself a grilled cheese sandwich. She usually took her shower and then had lunch, but for some reason, this day she did the opposite.

It’s a good thing, she said.

When the fire broke out shortly after 12:30 p.m., she would have been in the bathroom, which was behind her brother’s bedroom.

“And there was no way out,” she said.

She said she looked in her brother’s bedroom and saw flames racing up the wall and onto the curtains. She knew they had to get out.

“All I had time to get was my cell phone,” she said.

She sighed, purposefully keeping her back to the smoldering, twisted ruins of her home.

Luckily they both got out in time, and then she dialed 911. Within minutes, units were there.

“It seemed like forever,” she said.

“I’m not sure what started it, but there was a space heater in his room,” she said.

Friends and neighbors gathered to comfort the pair.

“I’m OK,” she kept saying. “I’m OK.”

Firefighters responded from Barrackville, Boothsville, Bunner Ridge, Grafton, Monongah, Rivesville, Valley and Worthington, along with the Marion County Rescue Squad and Marion County Sheriff’s Deputies.

The flames quickly spread throughout the home. When responders arrived, it was fully involved, said Roger Mundell of Valley.

A tall plume of thick black and grey smoke, seen billowing toward the sky from Route 310, attracted onlookers, who parked along the narrow, winding road and stood on the steep banks to watch the fire.

Additional units were called on scene as late as 2:30 as firefighters doused hot spots that tenaciously popped up here and there.

The fire spread from the trailer to both an outbuilding and an attached garage, flames licking at the corners of the roof.

A few firefighters entered the garage as more smoke billowed from window cracks.

“The house was a total loss,” said Jon Cogar Sr. of Winfield VFD.

“The cause is undetermined.”

When it was obvious the home was gone, Snodgrass already began mourning the loss of those irreplaceable items everyone has ... photos, letters, trinkets and mementoes.

She knows that over the next weeks and even months, she’ll remember more and more items she lost.

“But they can be replaced,” she said.

“Thank God for smoke detectors.”

Email Debra Minor Wilson at