2016-12-21 / Front Page

Families displaced after early morning apartment fire

Trish Rudder

 An early morning fire today, Wednesday, December 21, in Berkeley Springs caused severe damage to an apartment building and has left more than a dozen people displaced. The fire took place shortly after 1 a.m. in the lower left unit of a six-unit apartment building at 50 Briarwood Lane and caused severe damage. The other five units are not livable, said Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Co. incident commander Zach Sipe. Sipe, who lives in the area, arrived at the apartment complex about 1:25 a.m. where he saw heavy smoke coming from the apartment. He said a neighbor reported the fire to 911.

Eleven of the 13 residents were home and were outside. They "self evacuated," Sipe said. The Berkeley Springs fire department arrived shortly thereafter, and the fire was under control in 45 minutes.

Other fire units from South Morgan, Great Cacapon, Hedgesville, Reynold's Store and South Berkeley Co.were also on the scene, as well as Maryland’s fire departments from Hancock and Clear Spring in Williamsport and Maugansville Fire Co. from Hagerstown. Little Orleans and Flintstone fire departments from Alleghany County, Md. and Pennsylvania’s fire departments from Needmore and Mercersburg were there.   The Washington County Rehab 25 from Hagerstown provided food and drink, and the Washington County Air Unit from Hagerstown, the Morgan County EMS, Morgan County Sheriffs Department and Morgan County Deputy Reserves were all at the scene, Sipe said.

The apartment was a total loss, he said, and the other five units have smoke and water damage. A new family in one of the five apartments had a working smoke detector because the woman living there got one from the fire department, and when her daughter opened her bedroom door, the smoke alarm went off, Sipe said.

The fire was investigated by W.Va. Fire Marshal George Harms. Sipe said the fire marshal said the cause was a stove fire, but not from cooking.

The American Red Cross arrived at the fire scene about two hours after fire companies responded. Some of the resident are staying with friends or relatives, but "all had to be put up," said Sipe. The residents had no renters insurance to replace their belongings, he said.

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