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High winds lead to fire in Martinsburg

March 23, 2001

High winds lead to fire in Martinsburg



MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Martinsburg family was burned out of its home at 905 E. Moler Ave. Thursday when strong winds blew a television tower over some electrical wires and sent sparks down the side of the structure, firefighters said.

Captain William Markley of the Bedington Volunteer Fire Department said the tower was attached to the side of the house and supported a television antenna.

He said an arc of electric sparks struck the side of the two-story frame house and set it on fire around 6:10 p.m.

Firefighters had to rip through the wall and a ceiling to get to the flames, Markley said. He also said the sparks arced through the home's electrical system and destroyed it.

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"It will all have to be replaced," he said.

The house is owned by Harrison Hilker Jr. Markley said a family of five lived in the house.

There were no injuries, and the Hilker family was staying with friends and relatives Thursday night, he said.

The fire caused power to go out in part of Martinsburg near the house. Power crews were still on the scene at 9 p.m.

A friend of one of the house's residents said he was "scared to death" as he watched the fire go through the home.

Chad Allen, 16, had been taking a nap at his house when the power started going on and off. He went to the scene and saw that the antenna had fallen on the side of the house.

Allen, a student at Martinsburg High School who is a friend of Freddie Hilker, one of the residents of the house, said he watched the blaze develop for about two hours.

Other units were at the scene from Engine 9, Baker Heights and Martinsburg.

Firefighters were at the scene for about 2 1/2 hours, Markley said.

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