Fires burn W.Va. homes, garage and auction house

December 29, 2000

Fires burn W.Va. homes, garage and auction house

By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Four fires broke out in Berkeley County Thursday evening and Friday morning, including one that destroyed an auction house in Bunker Hill.

The other fires occurred in an abandoned house on Rock Cliff Drive in Martinsburg, a house off Shape Charge Road in the northern part of the county and a garage building in Bunker Hill, fire officials said.

Firefighters received the call about the auction house fire at 10:02 a.m. Friday, said Rusty Morgan, chief of the South Berkeley Volunteer Fire Co. When fire crews arrived at the scene, the roof had collapsed, Morgan said.

Emergency dispatchers received several calls from motorists traveling on Interstate 81 who said they could see black smoke coming from the area around the building, Morgan said.


It took about an hour for 25 firefighters at the scene to bring the fire under control, Morgan said.

Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the fire, which resulted in up to $175,000 in damages, Morgan said.

The auction house was near the intersection of Henshaw Road and U.S. 11 in Bunker Hill, in the southern part of the county. The building was owned by Tabb Investments and was being leased by William Burke, Morgan said.

Burke sold various items on consignment in the building, Morgan said. Burke had planned to have an auction there Friday night.

"Apparently it had a lot of items in it. I can't tell exactly what was in there," Morgan said.

It appeared some of the burned debris included mattresses and furniture, Morgan said.

It is believed someone set the fire at an abandoned house on Rock Cliff Drive on fire about 4 a.m. Friday, said Robbie Robinson, chief of the Bedington Volunteer Fire Department. There had been problems with vagrants staying around the house, Robinson said.

At about 5 p.m. Thursday, the Bedington Volunteer Fire Dept. responded to a house fire off Shape Charge Road, which is off U.S. 11 north of Martinsburg.

Greg Smith and his family, who lived in the house, were attending a wrestling tournament in Wheeling, W.Va., when the fire raced through the house, Robinson said.

It is believed the fire may have been caused by an electrical malfunction, Robinson said.

The house was destroyed, he said.

About the same time as the Shape Charge Road fire was reported, a fire started in Bunker Hill in a garage building, Morgan said. The building, which included an upstairs apartment, was destroyed.

The fire may have been started by a kerosene heater, Morgan said. A man was inside the garage draining gas from a piece of equipment, and the fuel may have been ignited by the heater, Morgan said.

The building was along Runnymeade Road.

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