HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Huntington Fire Chief Carl Eastham said the blaze that damaged the Morris Building in downtown Huntington Sunday does not appear to be suspicious. The investigation is just getting started but Eastham stressed, from what they can see, foul play is not apparent.
Flames engulfed the roof of the 7-story building which houses two restaurants on the ground floor and multiple apartments on the upper floors. Eastham said while it was a large fire and difficult to battle, there’s not that much damage considering what it looked like when fire crews arrived on scene about 9 a.m. Sunday.
“It is just rain protective roofing, that area burnt off and is no longer there. So that all has to be reconstructed,” according to the chief.
Other damage included the collapse of the penthouse, the elevator operation system falling into the shaft and water damage. Everyone managed to make it out of the building to safety.
“The building is still structurally sound. If they choose to do so, they could have the crews in there and have things back in operation within a month,” said Eastham.
The chief has nothing but praise for the firefighters that battled the blaze. He said his entire department was there to put out those flames and they got some much needed help from surrounding departments.
“We had four surrounding volunteer departments come in and give assistance and utilize their equipment. We also called back 45 off-duty personnel that went along with the 28 personnel that was on duty,” explained Eastham.
He said they needed every one of those firefighters to bring the blaze under control.
“There was a large amount of personnel needed to hold the fire in check where it was at and keep it from going further into the building or from going to other structures.”
It took about five hours to contain the flames and several more to put out hot spots.
Eastham said this is the largest fire his department has handled since the deadly 2007 Emmons apartment building blaze that killed 9 people.