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Fire disrupts workday for W.Va. law firm

September 21, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A fire discovered in the Martinsburg offices of a regional law firm Thursday morning is under investigation by the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department and the West Virginia State Fire Marshal's office.

The fire, reported to emergency dispatchers at 5:45 a.m., was contained to one room in the law offices of McNeer, Highland, McMunn and Varner L.C. at 275 Aikens Center, according to a news release from the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department.

"We got the fire out pretty quickly," Bedington Volunteer Fire Department deputy chief Tom Newcomb said.

When firefighters arrived, the building was full of smoke, which was coming out of the eave of the law offices, Newcomb said.

The entrance doors for the neighboring offices for American General Financial Services and Westfield Group remained open Thursday afternoon as ventilation efforts and the investigation was still under way.

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The fire is under the joint investigation of the Sheriff's Department, the county's fire investigation team and Ed Robinson, a deputy West Virginia State Fire Marshal.

Prevented from conducting much, if any, business, members of the firm's staff said they arrived at work Thursday morning to see firetrucks and Sheriff's Department vehicles at their office.

"We all have tons of work to do," said one of the firm's attorneys who declined to identify herself while waiting with other staff to be allowed to return to their office Thursday afternoon.

The attorney said the staff of Westfield Group allowed the law firm's eight-member staff to use their bathrooms throughout the day while they were waiting to retrieve files before cleaning the office.

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