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Officials say fire at plaza believed to be accidental

June 21, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - An assistant state fire marshal said Monday he believes a fire that spread through a movie theater and bar in the Berkeley Plaza early Saturday was accidental and started near a video lottery terminal in the bar.

Ed Robinson said he is unable to determine exactly how the fire started around the video lottery game and that part of the investigation will have to be performed by someone else.

Insurance companies for the theater and the bar will be involved in conducting that part of the probe, Robinson said.

There is nothing to indicate that the fire was suspicious, Robinson said.

A dog specializing in those types of determinations was led through the fire scene Monday and nothing was revealed that pointed to a suspicious nature, Robinson said.

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.

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Fire officials initially said that they believed the fire might have started in Duffey's Tavern.

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.

Before investigators could begin their work Monday, a crane had to be used to move some debris, Robinson said.

Columns also had to be placed in parts of the structure to support it so investigators could safely move around in the area, Robinson said.

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

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