abandoned home

This abandoned home on Washington Street, ravaged by fire in February, rekindled Monday night, igniting a seam of coal beneath the structure. Fire crews worked into the night to put out the blaze below ground.

A hodgepodge of state and local agencies responded to a scene Monday evening when an

abandoned structure previously damaged by fire, and the coal seam underneath, rekindled.

Fairmont Fire Chief Gregg Freme said the deserted building at the end of Washington Street had originally caught on fire in February. That blaze virtually destroyed the home, taking off most of the roof and front part of the structure, leaving pillars and a burned-out shell behind.

Monday evening, the structure rekindled. Freme said a coal seam just beneath the surface of the home had caught on fire as well.

Freme noted the stairwell leading to

the home’s basement was basically cut from the coal and could be seen burning Monday evening. At this time, the cause of the blaze is undetermined.

Freme immediately notified Marion County Office of Emergency Services Director Chris McIntire, natural gas and other utilities, and coal authorities.

“We’re pumping in water until the coal authorities tell us what to do,” Freme said. “They may suggest more water or foam or something else.”

A Fairmont Fire Department truck was pumping water from a hydrant on Madison Street and shuttling it to the scene, Freme said.

The main concern Monday wasn’t the structure but the coal seam, Freme said. When the rekindled blaze began, Freme wasn’t sure how large the seam was, where it began or ended, or how quickly it could spread.

“We want to stop this before it stretches over the rest of the hill,” Freme said. “It could be isolated without the ability to creep elsewhere.”

In his 29 years with the Fairmont Fire Department, Freme said he wasn’t sure if anything like this had happened before.

E-mail Katie Wilson at kwilson@timeswv.com.

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