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Morning fire deemed suspicious

Oct. 04, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Authorities are calling an early Wednesday fire which destroyed an abandoned house in Huntington suspicious.

Cabell County 911 received multiple calls reporting the fire beginning at 6:32 a.m. Those at the scene report the house was fully engulfed in flames upon arrival at the 500 block of 2nd Street.

The house had been abandoned for some time, according to Huntington Police Officer M. Parsons and Huntington Fire Deputy Chief Brian Grieco. Parsons called the fire suspicious, and Grieco said he would not be surprised if investigators deemed it arson as it had no active utilities.

That determination will be made by the state Fire Marshal's Office.

James Wallace, 43, lives across 2nd Street from the residence. He said the house had been vacant for some time. It also had a tendency to attract crime and indigents. He was indifferent to Wednesday's fire, although he never suspected it would burn.

"You get tired of chasing people who don't belong in here out," he said.

Parsons could see flames and billowing smoke from 1st Street. He among those who contacted 911.

"Flames were coming out every window and out of the roof," he said.

Firefighters took a defensive posture when they arrived on scene, deciding to let the house burn as they protected the neighboring structures. Grieco said the inherent danger of fighting fire in a vacant house prompts that response.

"When you have fires in occupied homes, people inside see the fire in its incipient stage and we can get in there faster," he said. "But when we've got something like this, it's fully involved. If we have to do any kind of operations inside, you're looking at collapse zones, hazards and things like that."

No injuries were reported in Wednesday's blaze.

The fire response temporarily closed portions of 6th Avenue and 2nd Street.