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Fire destroys Wayside Inn apartments

June 26, 2007|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Eight families of about 20 people lived in the Wayside Inn in southern Morgan County, W.Va., until a fire late Friday destroyed the building.

James Steiner, assistant chief of the Berkeley Springs Fire Department, said the state fire marshal told him Monday the cause of the fire was possibly an electrical problem.

Steiner said the fire started in the middle unit of the building and spread in both directions. No one was hurt, he said.

"We searched all the rooms and everyone was accounted for," Steiner said.

The Wayside is about eight miles south of Berkeley Springs on U.S. 522 near Cacapon State Park.

The fire call came in at 11:46 p.m., and it took about 40 firefighters from six companies to put out the fire in 4 1/2 hours.

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Crews came from Berkeley Springs, Great Cacapon and South Morgan in West Virginia, and from Reynolds Store and Gainesboro in Frederick County, Va., as well as the Hancock Fire Department.

The Morgan County Rescue Squad and the Washington County Air and Rehab Unit from Hagerstown assisted, Steiner said.

Wayside Inn owner John Schrider said the inn was formerly a 10-unit motel known as Mother's Inn, and in 2003 he turned it into efficiency apartments with microwave ovens and small refrigerators.

Schrider said most of the efficiencies were furnished by Wayside, and the weekly rentals were always about 90 percent full, he said.

He said only one of the units was not rented.

"We're thankful no one was hurt. The tenants responded by knocking on doors to let people know to leave," Schrider said.

His daughter, Kimberlie Schrider, 17, lived in unit 104, next to unit 103 where the fire broke out, he said. She was not in the apartment.

Her two cats were found the next day unharmed.

Schrider said he was not sure of the Wayside's future. He co-owns the Wayside property with Bruce Ullom, also of Berkeley Springs.

"Everyone was quick in responding and helpful, but I hate to see people lose all their personal belongings," he said.

Mickey Johnson, American Red Cross director of emergency services for Jefferson-Morgan Counties, said their disaster action team was on site from midnight to 3 a.m. Saturday helping people get a safe place to spend the night.

"We provide three nights of accommodations," he said.

Several families already came to the Berkeley Springs office to get disbursement orders to purchase needed items.

Johnson said monetary donations may be made at the American Red Cross office in Berkeley Springs at 187 S. Green St. The phone number is 304-258-1210.

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