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Morgan Co. family left homeless after fire

December 20, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

GREAT CACAPON, W.Va. - A fire Tuesday destroyed a Morgan County family's home off W.Va. 9 despite the efforts of emergency responders from three states, according to Great Cacapon Volunteer Fire Co. Assistant Chief Roger Steiner.

Heath and Cynthia Jessie and their four children, an 8-year-old girl, 9-year-old twins and an 11-year-old boy, were not home at 1751 Woodmont Road when firefighters were dispatched about 10:50 a.m., Steiner said. No emergency responders were injured either, Steiner said.

"When I got there, flames were shooting out of the back of the house," Steiner said of the one-story, prefabricated structure at 1751 Woodmont Road, west of Great Cacapon and about one mile or so off W.Va. 9.

Though still under investigation, Steiner said the fire appeared to start in the kitchen and might have been caused by an appliance. Assistant State Fire Marshal Ed Robinson was notified of the fire and is expected to make a determination as to what caused it, Steiner said.

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After a preliminary investigation, Steiner said officials believe the fire started after Cynthia Jessie left the residence Tuesday morning to take her home-schooled children to physical education class in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., Steiner said.

The home was purchased by the family in 2000 and Steiner estimated the fire caused as much as $150,000 in damage to the structure and the full basement upon which it was built.

Steiner said the American Red Cross was assisting the family, who lost everything. The home was insured, Steiner said.

One of the children was to celebrate a birthday on Christmas Day, Steiner said. The Jessies have twin 9-year-old boys, Jacob and Bobby; Austin, 11; and Lexi, an 8-year-old girl.

Assisting emergency responders from Great Cacapon at the scene of the fire were units from Berkeley Springs, Paw Paw and Hedgesville W.Va., Hancock and Little Orleans, Md., Needmore, Pa., and the Washington County Emergency Air Unit in Hagerstown, Steiner said.

Firefighters used 24,000 gallons of water to tackle the blaze, Steiner said.

It was not immediately clear whether a fund had been established for the fire victims, but Steiner said individuals may contact the Great Cacapon Volunteer Fire Co. to obtain more information about helping the Jessie family. The fire department can be reached at 304-258-4327.

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