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Fire marshal requested in St. Albans blazes

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County fire officials have called in the state fire marshal's office to investigate three similar fires that broke out in the same St. Albans subdivision over two days.

The first fire broke out in an apartment complex in the Indian Head subdivision on Geronimo Drive around 6 a.m. Sunday. That fire seems to have started at an outlet box on the outside of a wall, said Kanawha County Deputy Emergency Services Director C.W. Sigman.

A second fire broke out at 49 Geronimo Drive at almost the same time on Monday. Sigman said that fire also appears to have started at an outside outlet box.

"We've had two fires in 24 hours at about the same time, in exactly the same place," Sigman said after the second fire. "We want to get the [state] fire marshal's office out to try to figure this out."

Then, a third fire broke out about 11 a.m. Monday at another apartment on Geronimo Drive.

All three fires were in the same townhouse unit. The third fire started in another apartment unit, but this time on the second floor, Sigman said.

"It, like the other two, appears to be wiring fire, inside the wall," he said.

Sigman doesn't think the fires can be explained simply by faulty wiring.

"Faulty wiring would not be that consistent," he said. "I think there's something else going on.

"That's why we're calling in the experts."

Geronimo Drive is along the Coal River in St. Albans. Sigman said the community is made up largely of six-unit townhouses that were probably built at about the same time in the 1970s. He said another fire broke out in wiring leading to one of the units in September.

On Sunday and earlier Monday, smoke detectors alerted the occupants of the apartments and they were able to escape.

"[On Sunday] there was a mother, two children and a niece in the house," Sigman said. An elderly woman lived in the home in which the Monday-morning fire broke out.

Sigman said the third townhouse unit was under renovation and unoccupied when the fire started there.

Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.


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