MADISON, W.Va. — One of the oldest buildings in downtown Madison lies in ashes today, gutted by a highly suspicious fire Monday evening.
The blaze started about 6 p.m. in the building on the city’s Main Street which hadn’t been occupied for several months.
“It was a two story building, some of it had a basement, that had been basically sealed up,” said Madison Volunteer Fire Department Chief John Adams. “It miraculously caught fire. There weren’t any utilities hooked up.”
The blaze was confined to a back corner of the building where it appeared the fire originated. The Madison Fire Department along with fire departments from all over Boone County and surrounding counties responded. Fire fighters attacked the blaze from the outside and with aerial trucks from above. The aged structure was too dangerous to send fire fighters inside.
“We looked at the building earlier in the year when somebody had kicked a back door in,’ Adams explained. “We noticed how the floor had fallen in, and we had already decided we weren’t going to send anybody inside on that one.”
Fire crews were on the scene until early Tuesday morning guarding against the fire rekindling within the multiple walls and ceilings of the structure. Many believe the fire weakened the structure and it may need to come down immediately.
“That’s not my call, but it wouldn’t hurt,” Adams said. “I don’t know how the fire messed with the integrity of the building or how well the walls are going to hold up.”
The building was empty, but there was a lot of combustible material inside. Local officials say the building had become a gathering spot for vagrants and the homeless. Nobody was hurt while battling the blaze. The building formerly housed several apartments on the upper floors and many years ago housed a restaurant. Nobody is sure just how long the building had been in place.
“I looked like it’s built out of cut stone,” Adams said. “It’s been there a while.”