Fire investigators, including agents from the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, were not able to determine a cause behind the February 26 at the West Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind.
That early morning fire totally gutted the former Administration Building on the campus of the school in Romney. No students were on campus at the time of the fire, and the building was not currently in use. Plans were underway to turn it into a sort of visitor’s center or history center, local officials said.
According to a March 4 press release from the Office of the State Fire Marshal, the fire investigation began right away and involved a large number of specialists.
“Because of the scope and size of the scene it was determined by the WVSFMO to call in extra resources from the regional section of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The ATF soon arrived with their National Response Team, which consisted of more than 30 agents,” said Timothy Rock, Public Information Specialist.
“A detailed investigation, including interviews, scene analysis and checking of video surveillance, was conducted by both agencies. With the fire cause ruled as undetermined in cause, the case is now considered closed by the WVSFMO and ATF,” the state fire agency said.
Students of the school were expected to return to campus this week as utilities and services were restored to other buildings.
“We will continue to work with our students and staff during this time of recovery,” said West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) President Miller Hall. “We are eager for our students to return to campus so that their school year and activities can continue. We are mindful that things will be different on campus right now, and we appreciate the teachers, administrators and staff who will be even more vigilant in addressing the needs of our children. We will be there to support them in these endeavors.”
“This was more than a building to the school and the community, it was a part of the culture and tradition, and it is a significant loss to everyone,” said State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch.