Fire destroys 20th Street home

PARKERSBURG – Firefighters are still looking for the cause of a blaze that gutted a 20th Street home Wednesday afternoon.

Parkersburg Fire Chief Eric Taylor said the fire at 1411 20th St. was reported around 12:50 p.m. No one was home in the single-story house at the time.

Neighbors said the woman who lives in the house – whose name was not immediately available – was out of town with her three children.

When firefighters arrived on the scene, Taylor said, a power line that had dropped from the house was arcing on the ground.

“It was a little hairy there for a little bit,” Taylor said.

The chief estimated the blaze was under control in about 15 minutes, but the house was deemed a total loss.

Heat from the fire melted the siding on the neighboring home at 1413 20th St. and damaged utility lines, Taylor said. A neighbor took the woman living there to his house while firefighters attempted to put out the flames.

Some smoke and possible fire damage was also visible on the other side at 1409 20th St., which neighbors said is vacant.

Jennie McAtee lives across the street from the house that burned. She worked a night shift and had just woken up around the time the fire broke out.

“(I) walk out the door, and there’s flames shooting everywhere,” she said.

Fire Lt. Jason Matthews said the fire appears to have started in the enclosed front porch area, then spread to the rest of the structure.

As of Wednesday evening, he had not had a chance to speak to the occupants, so he did not have enough information to determine a cause.

“Until I talk to them, I’m leaving it undetermined,” he said. “I want to rule everything out first.”

McAtee said the family that lived in the house had moved into the neighborhood less than two months ago.

“She’s new to the community, so she doesn’t really know anybody,” McAtee said.

She said she posted a message on Facebook to start an effort to collect clothes for the family.

“We need to get together as a community and help her out,” McAtee said.