Blaze destroys home of local volunteer firefighter


An early morning fire in the New Hope area destroyed the home of a Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Company firefighter on Sunday, April 8. Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Chief Jami Clark said that the family and their dogs made it out of the home safely because their smoke detector alerted them to the fire.

A social media post by the fire company identified the homeowner as volunteer firefighter Jamie Struble.

Clark said that fire call came in to Morgan County 911 for Elmer Petoney Lane in the Elmer Petoney subdivision off New Hope Road at 4:10 a.m. Sunday morning. The homeowner called in the fire. The fire call was dispatched at 4:12 a.m. and the first units were en route at 4:14 a.m. and arrived on the scene at 4:19 a.m. The fire was fully involved upon arrival and was already through the roof, he noted.

Firefighters laid two lines attacking the fire and had it knocked down and under control at 5:00 a.m., Clark said. The whole roof burned off the home and there was extensive overhaul of the residence with all of the insulation and debris that fell. The floor was also spongy and firefighters had to put ladders down so they didn’t fall through the flooring.

Cause is undetermined

Clark said that the fire began in the back porch area of the structure, which was a single-story rancher with a full basement. The cause of the fire is undetermined and the fire marshal was called to investigate it.

The home is a total loss and the family lost all of their belongings in the fire. There were no injuries to the residents or to firefighters. The American Red Cross was called for the family, but Clark thought that family members were helping.

Units from Berkeley Springs, Great Cacapon, South Morgan, Hancock, Reynolds Store, Orleans, Gainesboro, Needmore and Hedgesville Volunteer Fire Companies responded to the blaze along with Washington County Air Unit 25 and Morgan County Emergency Medical Services. Other area volunteer fire companies filled in at the Berkeley Springs, Great Cacapon and South Morgan fire stations during the fire.

Clark said it’s always hard when they respond to house fires and emotions run high anyway. It’s even harder when it’s one of their own and someone they’ve worked with for many years.

“It really throws a curve ball. It could happen to anyone of us at any time,” he said of a home fire.

Smoke detectors save lives

Chief Clark said he couldn’t stress enough how much smoke detectors save lives. He urged residents to check their smoke detectors monthly to make sure they are working properly and to change their smoke detector batteries in the spring and fall at time change. Smoke detectors should also be replaced every ten years.