The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

September 3, 2013

Fire Marshall investigating suspicious fires in Mabscott

By Jessica Farrish
Register-Herald Reporter

— Investigators from the State Fire Marshal’s Office were in Mabscott Tuesday investigating two suspicious Labor Day fires, town officials reported.

Mabscott Mayor Wayne Houck’s home was destroyed by one of the fires.

Houck also serves as the assistant fire chief for Mabscott Fire Department.

According to Raleigh County officials, the first fire was reported on Lee Street, near Barker’s Junk in Mabscott, around 1:12 a.m.

Firefighters from Mabscott, Sophia Area, Sophia City, Coal City, Lester and Rhodell fire departments were sent to fight the blaze. Raleigh County Sheriff’s Department and Jan-Care Ambulance officials also responded.

While firefighters were battling the Lee Street fire, Raleigh County Emergency Operations Center was notified at 2:11 a.m. that Houck’s home, located at 218 Spruce St., was also in flames.

Houck’s home is located around 2 miles from the Lee Street house.

The mayor’s house was vacant at the time of the fire, officials reported.

Because local firefighters were responding to the Lee Street fire, Beckley Fire Department was notified at 2:21 a.m. by a Raleigh County Sheriff’s deputy to respond to the Spruce Street fire, BFD Capt. Ed Wills said.

“He told me the fire was still relatively small (at that time),” said Wills.

But by the time firefighters arrived minutes later, Wills said, the house was “fully involved.”

Houck arrived at the home about an hour after Beckley firefighters arrived, according to Wills.

Crews from Beaver, Coal City and Trap Hill fire departments, Mountaineer Gas and Beckely Police also responded to the Spruce Street call.

The Lee Street fire was extinguished by 6 a.m., and the Spruce Street fire scene was cleared at 11:11 a.m. Monday.

The deputy who had reported the fire to BFD was treated for arm lacerations, Wills said.

Houck was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

Mabscott town officials reported that Mabscott Fire Chief Darrell Bailey had left on a trip Tuesday morning and was not available for comment.

Arson is suspected, they added.