Neighbors concerned after abandoned house fire that turned deadly

One dead after morning fire
One dead after morning fire(WSAZ)
Published: Dec. 11, 2022 at 3:32 PM EST
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UPDATE 12/12/22 @ 6 p.m.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Robin Garton called the fire department when she saw flames coming from a Charleston house. She looks at the pile of rubble next to the excavator that tore the abandoned home down and said the loss of a life is tragic.

“Somebody’s son, yeah that is real sad,” Garton said.

It marks the second abandoned house fire, the home just next door on Hunt Avenue burned down back in September and Charleston Police charged a man for arson in that fire.

Both times firefighters believed no one was inside the homes because they were considered abandoned. Firefighters found Brandon Lee Morehead barely alive during a search in Sunday’s fire.

Garton said she knew people lived inside.

“I saw a couple people living there there was no power no water no utilities, so I assumed they were squatters in an abandoned home,” Garton said. “First of the month, I counted at least a dozen people going in and out and hanging out.”

Charleston Police said the home is not known to police.

Many of the homes that surround the one Garton bought in February are either abandoned or no one lives in them, and it is unclear who the owners are.

She pointed at the ones along her street.

“That one is abandoned, it’s gone. This one is not abandoned and someone was working on, but it sustained much more damage in the fire. Nobody is living in it, but somebody owns it and is working on it,” Garton said. “This one is empty someone is working on it, so it is not technically abandoned.”

She points to the house next to her own.

“This house is empty, too, and that makes me nervous. If that catches on fire, mine is gone,” Garton said. “This one is empty and they work on that randomly.”

The home that caught on fire Sunday has been demolished but the rubble remains on the property.

WSAZ reached out to city officials to find out who is responsible for the home that burned on Madison Street and what will happen to the property.

City officials say the property was listed as vacant on 6/21/22 and torn down after the fire.

Officials said this statement about the home.

City officials said if someone calls about someone staying at or living in an abandoned or vacant structure, the Building Commission will refer the inquiry to CPD. CPD will go out to the property to determine whether anyone is staying at or living in the abandoned or vacant structure.

If that is the case, CPD will notify the building commission if the home needs to be boarded up. The commission will contact the owner.

Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest.

UPDATE 12/12/22

The identity of the person who died Sunday in a house fire in Charleston has been released.

The Charleston Fire Department Fire Prevention Bureau confirmed Brandon Lee Morehead, 29, of Charleston, died from his injuries.

Firefighters found Morehead inside the home and transported him to a local trauma center.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Charleston Fire Department Fire Prevention Bureau.

The Bureau said more information will be released when it becomes available.

Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Firefighters battled flames at a home.

Charleston Fire Department tells one person has died following a house fire.

Dispatchers said the fire was reported just after midnight in the 1100 block of Madison Street.

Neighbor Robin Garton said the fire was very intense and called the 911 as soon as se saw the flames.

“I came out on the porch to see was the lights were and it was the house on fire, flames looking up 15 to 20 feet above the roof,” she said.

Firefighters believe the property to be abandoned, but a neighbor told them two people were living in the home.

Captain Alford said firefighters found a person while searching the home.

“It appears it was probably heating, trying to stay warm,” he said.

The victim was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment but later died.

Their identity has not been released.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.