Mineral Wells woman, pets escape house fire

MINERAL WELLS – A fire burned through the attic of a home on Cedar Lane near the West Virginia Interstate Fair and Exposition fairgrounds Tuesday evening, causing extensive damage, officials said.

The fire was reported to the Mineral Wells Volunteer Fire Department around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, said assistant fire chief Todd Shingleton.

When firefighters arrived at 171 Cedar Lane, the home, owned by Melina Huddy, was showing heavy smoke from multiple places, Shingleton said.

The home’s damage was estimated at more than $30,000, Shingleton said. The cause of the fire was still under investigation Tuesday evening, but early indicators point toward an electrical cause, Shingleton said.

No injuries were reported.

Four tanker units shuttled water back and forth down the single-lane, dead-end road to fight the blaze. The narrow road and muddy conditions made shuttling water a challenge, Shingleton said.

Firefighters performed simultaneous interior and exterior attacks to fight the blaze, Shingleton said. The fire was declared under control around 6:10 p.m.

Once the fire was believed to be out, firefighters cut through the metal roof to create ventilation holes for the smoke in the attic, Shingleton said.

Huddy, along with her bird, her cat and her five dogs, was inside when the fire broke out in a back bedroom, Huddy said.

“It started as a tiny wisp of smoke out of the bedroom in the back corner,” Huddy said.

By the time firefighters arrived, the entire attic area was on fire, Shingleton said.

Three of the five dogs left the home willingly, but the other two remained inside, too frightened to exit through the front door that was normally off-limits to them, Huddy said.

Skip Starkey, one of Huddy’s neighbors, braved the blaze in search of the two missing dogs, Huddy said.

Starkey was attempting to open the sliding back door, which the dogs were accustomed to exiting through, when firefighters arrived and evacuated him from the building, Huddy said.

The firefighters were able to remove one dog from the fire quickly, Shingleton said. The last dog refused to leave the couch and was too large of a breed to be easily picked up, Shingleton said.

Firefighters Kevin Harris and Chad Lynch of Eastwood Volunteer Fire Department worked together to coax the dog off the couch and lead it out the back door by the collar to safety, Harris said.

The last two animals to be removed from the house were covered in fire-suppression foam, but otherwise unharmed, Huddy said.

Huddy believes the fire began as an electrical issue in the back bedroom and spread into the blown insulation in the attic.

Once the animals were safe, Huddy began to worry about the irreplaceable items in her home.

“My whole life is in that little house,” Huddy said. “Four generations worth of heirlooms. I couldn’t do anything because I couldn’t see the fire,” she said.

The fire remains under investigation, Shingleton said. Firefighters remained on the scene until approximately 9 p.m. for an investigation.

Firefighters from the Mineral Wells Volunteer Fire Department, Lubeck Volunteer Fire Department and Eastwood Volunteer Fire Department fought the blaze, Shingleton said. They were joined by reinforcements and tanker trucks from Blennerhassett Volunteer Fire Department and Elizabeth-Wirt Volunteer Fire Department, he said.