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UPDATE: Police looking for two homeless people after vacant house fire

Published: Jul. 16, 2020 at 9:59 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va (WTAP) - UPDATE: 7/17/2020 6:19 P.M.

Parkersburg Police are looking for two homeless people after a fire destroyed a vacant house on East Eighth Street last night.

Parkersburg Fire Chief Jason Matthews says two people were staying in the house that weren’t suppose to be there.

Officials say a witness told them the two were seen leaving as the fire started.

Matthews says his department is still trying to find what caused the fire and that nobody was inside the house during the blaze.

Police were unable to give any further details at this time.

UPDATE: 7/17/20 12:00 A.M.

A vacant house in Parkersburg has burned completely to the ground.

Just before 9 p.m. Thursday, Parkersburg firefighters spotted smoke coming from the East 8th Street area from Fire Station 1, Fire Chief Jason Matthews says. They notified other stations and crews headed to the scene. When they arrived, the fire had already caused part of the building to collapse.

“We went into defensive attack immediately,” said Matthews.

The collapse made some of the flames difficult to reach, so once the fire was weakened, a backhoe loader was brought in to rearrange debris. Matthews says this would allow firefighters to completely extinguish the fire. They were still spraying hot spots around 11:15 p.m.

Matthews says the house was vacant, but Code Enforcement has visited the house multiple times recently to tell people who were staying there to leave. There is also what appears to be a homeless camp near the scene of the fire.

The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

“Talking with the owners, the interior was gutted, so there was no dry wall or any material covering the wood framing. With it wide open like it is, it went up rather quickly,” said Matthews.

The property owner had been working to sell the house before it burned down. Her grandfather, who she says has handled most of the business with the house, says they were within a week of passing the property onto the next owner.

ORIGINAL STORY:

The Parkersburg Fire Department responded to a structure fire around 8:47 p.m. Thursday. Crews responded the area of 8th Street off Swann Street for a structure that was fully engulfed in flames. The structure is completely destroyed.

Madison Avenue and 8th Street were blocked off while crews worked to put out the fire. WTAP is working to learn if it was a house or a garage, but fire crews, police, and WVU Medicine Camden Clark ambulance were there.

We will continue to update you with the latest both on air and online.

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