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Vacant house burns, damages others

A fire at 908 Charles St. was reported at 11:24 p.m. Tuesday., with Parkersburg firefighters arriving on the scene four minutes later to find “heavy fire on the second story and attic of the house. The house was torn down by emergency demolition Wednesday. (Photo by Tyler Bennett)

PARKERSBURG — A vacant structure burned late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, damaging two adjacent houses on Charles Street in Parkersburg.

The fire at 908 Charles St. was reported at 11:24 p.m. Tuesday, with Parkersburg firefighters arriving on the scene four minutes later to find “heavy fire on the second story and attic of the house,” Fire Chief Jason Matthews said.

“When we arrived, the front half had significant damage, and the roof had (caved) in somewhat on the front half of the house,” he said.

The house to the left sustained fire damage in the attic, while the one on the right suffered only exterior damage, Matthews said.

The original blaze was under control within about 20 minutes, the chief said, but firefighters were on the scene until about 2:50 a.m. Wednesday putting out hot spots and verifying there was no one inside the house.

The Parkersburg Police Department had been called to the address around 8:30 or 9 p.m. Tuesday to check on a complaint that someone was inside, Matthews said. Both code enforcement and police had been to the house before to get people out, he said.

The house was torn down by emergency demolition Wednesday, Matthews said.

Due to the extent of the damage, the cause of the fire is unknown. It’s believed the fire started on an upper floor, where code officials had indicated people were found in the past, Matthews said.

Authorities are trying to track down the people who had been inside to continue the investigation.

It’s the latest vacant structure in the city to burn, despite increased efforts by city officials to address slum and blight.

“It’s just very frustrating that we have so many vacant homes and people in them all the time,” Matthews said.

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