The Tug Valley area had three devastating fires in a matter of hours this past Saturday and one led to the death of an elderly woman.
The first fire occurred at Falls Branch Road near Chattaroy, W.Va. on Saturday afternoon. The West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s office is investigating that fatal fire. At this time, the blaze is still under investigation and the cause of the fire is undetermined, according Fire Marshal Todd Hambrick. Neighbors said a 73-year-old woman was killed in the fire. She has been identified as Nancy Carol (Luther) Coleman. A family pet, a dog, also perished in the blaze.
Tara “Baby-T” Sexton, who was Coleman’s caretaker, contacted the Williamson Daily News to say she was devastated by the loss. Sexton said she tried to get to Coleman, but was unable to do so because of the smoke and flames. Sexton said she was not only a caretaker for Coleman, but that they were friends.
A daughter, Kelli Coleman, also resided at the residence, but was not home at the fire started.
The Chattaroy Volunteer Fire Department (CVFD) and Williamson Fire Department (WFD) responded to the fatal fire at about 2:40 p.m. Saturday. Firefighters were on the scene till 6:30 p.m. A CVFD firefighter was injured fighting this fire. He reportedly hurt his knee and was taken to a local hospital by STAT Ambulance. The CVFD responded with three trucks and six men and the WFD brought one truck and three firemen.
Mingo County Medical Examiner Mike Casey also came to the scene. Trooper Rose, from the Williamson Detachment of the West Virginia State Police, also responded to the fatal fire.
The fire marshal’s office said the cause of the fire will likely be determined this week, but said there were no smoke detectors in the home. The home was a total loss.
The second fire was on Elm Street in downtown Kermit, according to Kermit Volunteer Fire Department (KVFD) Chief Tomahawk Preece. Chief Preece said he lives only a couple of streets from where the fire happened. He raced to the home and firefighters responded quickly, but the fire was “already rolling inside.”
The house, owned by Tammy (Preece) Hodge and Bob Hodge, was completely gutted. Chief Preece said the 911 call came in about 8:00 p.m. on Saturday evening. The couple was not at home at the time of the fire. The Warfield Volunteer Fire Department provided mutual aid for the KVFD.
Chief Preece said the fire is suspected to have started in a light fixture in the kitchen of the 2-story house. The home is listed as a total loss due to a combination of the smoke, fire and water damage. Tammy Hodge is a councilwoman for the town of Kermit and longtime employee for the Mingo County Board of Education.
The third fire occurred around 11 p.m. at the Valley View subdivision, which is located just south of Williamson. When the first fire truck arrived on the scene flames were already shooting through the roof of the structure.
The CVFD responded with two trucks and six firefighters, while the WFD responded with a truck for mutual aid.
The home was owned by Penny Varney. The family was out of town so there were no injuries in this blaze. Firefighters believed the origin of the fire was electrical and started in the attic of the one story home. The home was listed as a total loss.
The blaze is under a routine investigation by the W.Va. State Fire Marshal’s office.
The firefighters were on the scene of this fire for about three hours. The nearby homes did not suffer any damage.
(Kyle Lovern is the Managing Editor for the Civitas Media Mountain District including the Williamson Daily News and Logan Banner. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.)