WHEELING, W.Va. — Staff members of Wheeling’s Augusta Levy Learning Center gathered in a borrowed board room in Monday to decide on their next move. Their location in the former Sacred Heart Church was heavily damaged in a fire Saturday morning.

“The fire did not reach our floor,” said Angela Wood, Executive Director of the learning center. “But the water damage, we had a foot to a foot and a half of water in our bottom floor by the time they got the fire out.”

Wood learned of the fire mid-morning Saturday from a staff member and hoped it would not be anything too serious as she drove to the scene. However, several blocks away from the fire she could see the smoke rising in to the air and knew there would be significant damage.

The learning center is located on the bottom floor of the former church. The fire started in the steeple area and a cause remains under investigation.

The facility provides a learning environment for students who suffer from autism. The center has 21 students ages 2 to 14 in a one-on-one learning environment. Routine and structure are extremely important to the developmental progress of the individual students, so Wood and her staff are trying to do all they can to move forward.

“We’re trying to provide home therapy, so we have staff traveling across the tri-state area,” she explained. “Just to keep that consistency for them, so they don’t lose skills and they get back into some sort of routine.”

According to Wood the outpouring of community support from not only Wheeling but the entire tri-state region has been heart warming in recent days. She says at this point, they are visiting with insurance adjusters and trying to assess what they need by determine exactly what is lost. Work on the cleanup is underway.

Investigators from the Wheeling Fire Department on Monday announced the fire was accidental and started in an electrical junction box mounted in the ceiling.

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