PIEDMONT, W.Va. — A blaze that destroyed three century-old buildings in this Mineral County town was ruled accidental and likely caused by a resident trying to thaw pipes with an open flame, according to an investigator.

The blaze broke out about 9 p.m. on Jan. 9 and quickly spread to engulf two apartment complexes and a repair shop.

West Virginia Assistant State Fire Marshal Patrick Barker said a few residents were using an open flame to thaw copper pipes and smoke was noticed inside one of the apartments. Barker said he was not sure if the open flame or the hot copper pipes caused the fire.

Six adults and seven children were left homeless, and two firefighters suffered minor injuries. Both were treated and released.

Barker estimated the fire caused $500,000 in damage, some of which impacted the building that houses the Piedmont library.

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