The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

February 26, 2013

Nearly a complete city block in Hinton destroyed by early morning arson

Amazingly no death or injuries reported; Billy Joe Gill, 25, in custody


Nearly an entire city block in downtown Hinton has been razed and residents in 11 homes are displaced after an arsonist started two separate fires around 1 a.m. on Tuesday.

Hinton Police Chief Derek Snavely said Billy Joe Gill, 25, of Hinton, was arrested and charged with 1st Degree Arson, a felony. He is believed to be responsible for both incidents.

Hinton Fire Chief Ray Pivont said the fire department responded to a fire in a two-story structure on Fifth Avenue near the Hinton waterpark and Summers Street around 1:25 a.m.

Only 30 minutes later and while on the scene of the first fire, the fire department was called to a second structure fire in the 800 block of Temple Street at a group of apartments knows as “the brick row,” he said.

Pivont said additional fire departments throughout the county and from neighboring counties were called to assist; however, the fire spread rapidly, leaving the entire complex containing 10 apartments in 5 closely neighboring buildings a total loss.

No one was injured in the fires.

“I know today marks a day in history that many will never forget,” expressed Snavely. “Today we nearly lost a dozen homes, but we are so blessed that none of our citizen or first responders were injured.”

Snavely said Assistant State Fire Marshal Scott Rhodes assisted the Hinton Police Department with the investigation.

Hinton Mayor Joe Blankenship said he was proud of the police force, most of whom worked through the night on the investigation which led to a swift arrest.

“Tragedies like these are hard but it makes you proud that our city and community can come together for a quick response,” he added.

Officials are not sure of the number of people displaced by the fire, but Blankenship said American Red Cross representatives from Beckley would meet with victims Tuesday and find shelter for everyone by nightfall.

Area resident Maria Torres said donations for the families are being collected at J. L. Massie Insurance Inc., located at 217 Temple Street.

Summers County 911 said all fire departments in the county responded to the scene, including Forest Hill, Hinton, Jumping Branch, Sandstone, and Talcott.

— E-mail:

Text Only
Latest News
  • Sunflower 1 Unique sunflower

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • How much will annexation cost?

    City of Beckley officials say annexation would provide many benefits to outlying residents, but exactly how much would annexation cost?

    July 28, 2014

  • Not in my backyard: U.S. sending fossil fuel abroad

    As the Obama administration weans the U.S. off dirty fuels blamed for global warming, energy companies have been sending more of America’s unwanted energy leftovers to other parts of the world where they could create even more pollution.

    July 28, 2014

  • Greenbrier PSD officials worried about State Fair tunnel project

    Plans to raise a section of U.S. 219 and construct a tunnel underneath for the passage of State Fair pedestrians provided a hot topic for discussion at Friday’s meeting of the Greenbrier Public Service District No. 1 board.

    July 28, 2014

  • Beckley man places second in three-day world horseshoe tourney in Buffalo, N.Y.

    One Beckley man knows a thing or two about pitching a horseshoe. He’s been throwing for decades and he’s been to a handful of world tournaments. Recently he placed second in the 2014 World Horseshoe Pitching Tournament.

    July 28, 2014

  • saints garb new Saintly garb

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • tunnel flow Tunnel reopens after fire

    Traffic on Interstate 77 was still backed up about 14 miles in Bland County, Va., Saturday evening, but the Virginia Department of Transportation reported at about 6 p.m. that both northbound lanes of I-77 through East River Mountain were open to traffic.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • tunnel firefighters Bluefield firefighters first ones on the scene

    Lights in the southern end of the tunnel illuminate an odd design beside the catwalk near the left lane of the northbound tube of the East River Mountain Tunnel that transports I-77 from Virginia into West Virginia. Two firefighters who made the initial assault through the total darkness of the soot and smoke-filled tunnel left those marks as they slid their arms along the catwalk wall on their journey back to the light.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • Internet service providers talk shop at Broadband Summit

    Call it the Internet 101.

    West Virginia’s Internet service providers, with the help of Mike Holstine, explained how end-users in homes and businesses get the Internet, how and why they use it and the benefits of having high-speed Internet for everybody. 


    July 27, 2014

  • tunnel Fire closes I-77 for hours

    East River Mountain Tunnel was engulfed in a cloud of black smoke Friday as a result of a tractor-trailer fire inside the tunnel that ignited just after 3 p.m.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo