B & O ROUND HOUSE FIRE PARKERSBURG WV
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PARKERSBURG AREA LAW ENFORCEMENT & VETERANS
A blaze destroyed the old B and 0 Railroad Roundhouse at 700 Depot St, Sunday night, August 20,1989. Parkersburg fire officials said the fire was caused by arson.
The fire burned all night, presenting a spectacle of flame and smoke against the night sky in its early stages.
From 7th Street, the orange glow and flames looked like the burning of Atlanta in the film "Gone With The Wind Parkesburg fire fighters were called out to the fire at approximately
9:07 p. m. Fire Chief Steve Gainer said three engines, one tower truck and a rescue truck were on the scene. A total of 22 fire fighters battled the blaze including 10 off duty firemen who were called to the scene.
The building was totally involved when we go there "Gainer said at the scene. Fire was coming through the roof at that time. One back wall collapsed 30 minutes into the fire. Gainer said no injuries occurred to civilians or firemen at the scene. Capt. Don Hamrick was one of the off duty men called to the fire, He described the building as a total loss by the time fire fighters arrived.
It was gone when we got there, he said. All we could do was contain the fire.Hamrick said fire men remained on scene until 5: 30 a. m. when most of the fire was out. Some fire men remained on the scene to put out hot spots.
Several railroad cars were parked behind the building, including one believed to contain diesel fuel. Firemen kept one hose trained on the cars to keep them wetted down so the fire would not spread.
Hamrick said the diesel car was behind the building with no way to move it. "It was too close," he said "We just covered it and kept the fire off of it" Gainer said the building, now owned by CSX Transportation, was vacant and had been boarded up.
He described the old round house as a building with historical significance to Parkersburg. It had been used to park engines and turn them, and as a shop area for repairs. The building was not insured and no value was listed. "It was basically an abandoned building," Gainer said.
Damage to the contents of the building involved mainly tools, a drill press, a tow motor vehicle and maintenance equipment, Gainer said. An assessment of building and content damage was incomplete, although it was listed at $50,000. The structure was listed as a total loss and is scheduled for demolition, Gainer said.
"It was definitely arson," Gainer said. "We had a fire earlier in the evening about 7 p.m. in a small storage building across the tracks nearby. The storage building at 654 7th St was listed as a small loss. It was apparently caused by youths trying to start a fire with flares.
Gainer said a third fire was discovered in a hose house shed next to the building shortly before the fire. A guard from Walker Parkersburg and two railroad employees extinguished it without calling the fire department. Gainer believes there is a connection between the other fires and the roundhouse fire. Parkersburg Fire Prevention Bureau Inspector H. L. Barnhouse was checking the scene for further details on the cause and more complete damage estimates.
CSX spokesman Lloyd Lewis said the building had been shut down as an engine area about one year ago and was being used for storage. Other items stored inside were an air compressor and a crane.
Lewis noted that the building dated back to the locomotive steam engine days and was many many decades old.
Heavy traffic consisting of Homecoming spectators returning home Sunday was slowed by rescue vehicles going to the fire scene, situated behind Ideal Corrugated Box Co. Many drivers watched the fire from their vehicles.
The blaze was visible from 7th Street between 9:30 and 10:30 p. m. Area residents lined the side walks to watch the glow from the flames and smoke coming from the roof of the structure.
Gainer said no explosions took place, although citizens claimed to have heard them. The noise came from the fire works at the Parkersburg Homecoming Festival he said.
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