CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Side house where two adults and seven children died in a fire is a preserved scene of destruction and pain a year later.
The house could remain there for years, too, reminding people of the tragedy with a heap of melted toys and pink fabric strewn across a barren yard.
The future of the house at 2 Arlington Ave. is unsure. No one has a solid plan to demolish it, and the ruins are boarded up and nailed shut.
On March 24, 2012, at about 3:25 a.m., a blaze started inside the front of the house that authorities said ignited framework into an inferno.
That blaze took the lives of Alisha Carmella Carter-Camp, 26, and Carter-Camp's three children: Keahana Alease Carter-Camp, 8; Timothy "BJ" Bryan Carter-Camp, 7; and Jeremiah Rashaud Carter-Camp, 3.
Carter-Camp's boyfriend, Alexander Lee Seals, 27, and Seals' two daughters, Gabrielle, 5, and McKenzie, 3, also were killed.
Latasha Jones-Isabell, Carter-Camp's sister, escaped the fire. Her two children, Elijah John Scott, 3, and Emmanuel Charles Jones-Isabell, 20 months, did not.
Firefighters grapple with two theories about how the fire started. Neighbors ponder if they could have done anything differently.
Outside the house, at the intersection of Cora Street and right up the street from a fire station, is a makeshift memorial. Last week, a damp teddy bear sat in a mailbox. Flowers, living and plastic, were strewn along the fence with strips of caution tape.
Around the house, the back porch was spared by the fire and is sheltered from the weather. A tricycle sits nearby, and a child's message is written in chalk: "I [heart] you Bubby."
"Bubby" was sister Keahana's nickname for Bryan. Keahana apparently signed the message with her initials -- K.A.C.
'Hurricane came through'
Adam and Sheila Huffman live across Arlington Avenue from the burned-out house. Adam went to school in St. Albans with Alisha Carter-Camp, and Sheila knew her from her job as a desk clerk at the Holiday Inn.
"The smell is the worst thing," Sheila Huffman said. "On a rainy day, you can really smell it. It smells like char. It's like the fire is happening all over again."
Adam Huffman said he and his wife were going to move inside 2 Arlington Ave. early in 2010, but backed out after a dispute with the landlord, Delores Shamblin. Carter-Camp moved in later.
Shamblin, 75, of Mammoth, inherited the house and had intended to have it certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Adam Huffman performed odd jobs around the house, but said there was no end to the things that Shamblin wanted fixed. He bought three smoke detectors for the house, he said, before he and Sheila looked for housing elsewhere.
After the blaze, firefighters found smoke detectors in the house. Only one was working, and it was inside a drawer in the dining room.
Shamblin said Adam Huffman never touched the electricity within the house, and a HUD inspector checked out the house before Carter-Camp moved in. The inspector found nothing wrong with the wiring or anything else.
Shamblin said she's given up her search for answers. She said she can sleep at night knowing she did everything she could do to prevent the fire from happening.
"There's nothing I can do. I can't stand over people 24/7," she said. "I feel very sad, but it wasn't my fault."
Shamblin said she feels terrible for what happened and goes to church to get through it. She hasn't talked to any of the victims' families.