SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. -- Capt. Robert Barber stood outside of what remained of the Salvation Army thrift store and church in Summersville on Friday. An early morning blaze, although short-lived, completely destroyed everything inside and blackened out the storefront windows with a thick layer of ash.
For those connected to the store, this fire is eerily similar to an arson that occurred there almost a year ago. Police said they had investigated 22 other arsons committed around Nicholas County in February of 2012.
Everything had been quiet since police arrested two men in connection to those fires.
Shortly after 2 a.m. Friday, firefighters received a call about a structure fire at the Salvation Army store at 731 Broad St. The Summersville Fire Department is a few yards away and Assistant Fire Chief Jared Cruse said it only took a few minutes to arrive and contain the blaze. If there had been any delay, he said, the quickly escalating fire would have engulfed the entire building.
"Our cash register is now just a pile of melted plastic," Capt. Barber said. "The hands of a clock on the wall melted and stopped exactly at 2:24 a.m."
Barber said the fire began at a wooden door leading into a room where donated items are sorted and stored.
Cruse said he wouldn't comment on whether the blaze is considered suspicious or not, but said state fire marshals are expected to arrive sometime Saturday to investigate.
Barber said he believes Friday morning's fire is suspicious because it began at the same spot -- and at the same door -- where an intentionally set blaze began on Feb. 24, 2012.
During a 24-hour timeframe that day, firefighters and police responded to three other arsons.
Summersville Police Detective T.A. Blake said Nicholas Coty Stover and Austin Lee Cox, both 21 and from Craigsville, were charged in connection to several of those arsons. Both men are on home confinement while awaiting trial.