Plaza fire investigation to continue today

June 19, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Much of the investigative work to determine how a fire started Saturday at the Berkeley Plaza is expected to get under way today, said a Berkeley County Sheriff's Department spokesman.

Some of the debris will probably have to be moved to make the site safe, said Chief Deputy Kenny Lemaster.

Bob Elliott, a co-owner of the movie theater that was damaged in the fire, said owners of businesses affected by the fire and authorities are expected to meet at the site today to discuss a possible cause of the blaze.

One of Berkeley Plaza Theatre's six auditoriums was destroyed in the fire and Duffey's Tavern also was destroyed in the blaze, which was reported about 4:36 a.m., officials said.

Although Bedington Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief Scott Schill said previously that the fire might have started in Duffey's Tavern, Schill said Sunday he did not have any new details about the origins of the fire.


Schill said the rest of the investigation will be up to the sheriff's department and the Fire Marshal's office.

Elliott re-emphasized Sunday his intentions to reopen his movie theater. Elliott said he was able to keep ticket prices low, which attracted people from around the area, including Hagerstown.

"A lot of people depended on that theater," Elliott said.

Witnesses to Saturday's fire said the blaze generated intense heat and caused support beams to buckle. The facade of Berkeley Plaza Theatre was turned into a blackened heap of burned rubble and twisted metal.

People curious to see the damage continued driving past the landmark on Sunday.

"It's been nonstop," said a deputy reserve officer who was watching the site.

Berkeley Plaza, along U.S. 11 north, opened in 1965.

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