PARKERSBURG - A Parkersburg Police officer entered a burning house and convinced the occupant inside to leave his home before the Parkersburg Fire Department arrived at the scene Friday, officials said.
Officers with the Parkersburg Police Department were answering a call on Spring Street, a block away, when the fire at 610 17th St. was reported at 5:52 p.m., said Sgt. W.J. Cox with the Parkersburg Police Department.
When police arrived on the scene moments later, Patrolman J.N. Dennison discovered that the resident was still inside the burning house, Cox said.
Firefighters cut holes in the roof of the burning house on 17th Street in an attempt to gain access to the fire, after double-ceilings made access from within the house difficult. (Photo by Gretchen Richards)
The occupant of the home, Hank Wells, age unknown, had been using a gallon of water to attempt to put out the fire, but became disoriented, Cox said.
"Dennison went inside and convinced the resident to exit the home," Cox said. "Without Dennison's help, the man probably would have died in there," she said.
The Parkersburg Police initially reported that people were entrapped in the home when the fire was called in, said Capt. Tim Flinn with the Parkersburg Fire Department.
"The police did a good job in notifying the fire department that no one was inside when firefighters arrived on scene," Flinn said.
The fire department does not encourage people attempting to extinguish the fire by themselves instead of calling 911, Flinn said.
When Dennison and Wells exited the home, the police communicated the information to the 911 center, which updated the fire department while it was en route, Flinn said.
Armed with up-to-date information, the fire department was able to concentrate on the fire when it arrived at the scene, Flinn said.
The fire was located in the attic of the home, Flinn said. The attic was fully involved when firefighters arrived, Flinn said.
"The access to the attic was difficult with renovations that had been done; there was an original tongue and groove ceiling with another ceiling of drywall," Flinn said.
Firefighters had the fire under control within 10 minutes, but spent several hours searching for hot spots and performing an investigation, Flinn said.
The building, owned by Janet Wells of Cutler, has been called "probably a complete loss," with repairs estimated at more than $25,000, Flinn said.
The home did not have working smoke detectors inside, Flinn said.
Hank Wells, related to the homeowner, was taken to Camden Clark Medical Center for medical evaluation on Friday, Flinn said. His status was unknown on Friday evening.
Fire investigators Andy Nestor and Jody Casto believed the fire to be accidental and possibly electrical in nature but the exact cause is undetermined at this time.
The Parkersburg Fire Department responded with 15 firefighters, five Engine Companies, Aerial Truck, Rescue Truck and Command Vehicle, Flinn said. They were able to use a nearby fire hydrant to douse the fire, Flinn said.