Fire that killed three under investigation

BIG SPRINGS – Investigators with the West Virginia Fire Marshal are trying to determine what caused a fire that claimed the lives of three family members over the weekend in Calhoun County.

The blaze at the house at 314 Leading Creek Road in the Big Springs area was reported around 10 p.m. Saturday, said Jason Baltic, assistant state fire marshal.

“Sunday morning, just after 9 o’clock, they located the first of three victims inside the burnt-out structure,” he said.

“It was a very destructive fire,” Baltic said when asked why it took so long to recover the bodies. “The second story fell into the first story.”

The victims’ names have not been released, pending positive identification. The Hur Herald, an online publication from Calhoun County, identified them as members of the same family – a woman in her 90s, her son in his 60s and his daughter in her 40s.

The Herald reported a man returning from work spotted the fire and a neighbor and friend of the family, Ernest Lamp, called 911 before he and the other man attempted to enter the house.

“We tried to get through the door which was red hot and fire coming around it,” Lamp told the Herald. “We then tried to get through a window but there was too much smoke smothering us.

“We were pretty sure they were all in there, but we just couldn’t do anything. They were great neighbors,” he said.

The Grantsville, Smithville and Arnoldsburg volunteer fire departments responded, the Herald says.

Baltic said the fire remains under investigation. He would not say whether it appears to have been accidental or intentionally set. The Hur Herald cited sources as saying it might have been caused by an electric space heater.