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Harpers Ferry mayor looks to recovery, rebuild following fire


4 buildings burned out of control in Harpers Ferry early Thursday morning.
4 buildings burned out of control in Harpers Ferry early Thursday morning.

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. — Reality has set in for the residents of Harpers Ferry impacted by Thursday’s devastating fire.

The blaze, called in shortly after 3:00 a.m., destroyed four buildings in the historic town on Potomac and High streets that housed numerous businesses.

Harpers Ferry Mayor Greg Vaughn saw affected business owners embracing in the streets Friday, but described the mood as positive.

“That’s a sign of the West Virginia attitude and mentality,” he said.

As far as rebuilding, Vaughn said there needs to be a lot of coordination with the Historic Landmarks Commission, the Planning Commission and the town council because the fire took place dead center in the town’s historic district.

“I’m calling an emergency meeting tomorrow (Saturday) addressing that particular issue,” Vaughn said.

The mayor was vacationing more than four hours away when the fire started and rushed home. Vaughn said he was staying near Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, but the two were unable to connect before Vaughn returned. Tomblin has since pledged the state’s support to Harpers Ferry during the recovery efforts.

The reaction following the fire has been overwhelming, Vaughn said.

“I couldn’t have asked for any more concern than what they have expressed,” he said, pointing out that they are too early for any specific aid at this point. He does plan to reach out once the needs have been identified.

“I’ll talk with the appropriate representatives, both at the state and federal level, and see if there is some kind of assistance that we can get for the commercial property and commercial business owners that were affected,” Vaughn said.

Investigators with the state Fire Marshal’s Office were back at the fire scene Friday. Vaughn said he hopes to know something before the emergency council meeting on Saturday.

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