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Belington motel guests unhurt but displaced by fire

The Inter-Mountain photo by Sara Harris Onlookers gather as members of the Belington Volunteer Fire Department battle a morning blaze at the Midtown Motel in Belington.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Sara Harris
Onlookers gather as members of the Belington Volunteer Fire Department battle a morning blaze at the Midtown Motel in Belington.

BELINGTON, W.Va. — An early morning fire at the Midtown Motel destroyed property and tied up traffic as fire departments fought the blaze for hours Wednesday.

Phil Hart, chief of the Belington Volunteer Fire Department, said 10 units in the southwest corner of the motel complex were damaged by fire and smoke.

Chuck Nicholson, the motel’s manager, said 12 guests were staying in four of those rooms. A tenant staying in room 17 woke up early in the morning to use the restroom and saw the glow of flames reflecting through the window.

“He came outside and down to (the office). We figured it was in the attic,” Nicholson said. “He came down and woke me up and I went back up there and I got everybody out.”

All guests were evacuated without incident.

Nicholson said after evacuating the building he contacted 911 and first responders from the Belington Fire Department arrived within five minutes. He said firefighters battled the blaze from 6:30 a.m. to about 9:30 a.m.

Hart said when firefighters arrived the blaze had made it through to the roof. He confirmed that responders fought the fire for more than three hours.

“The main thoroughfare was blocked for the duration of the fire due to fire hoses being laid down,” he said.

Hart said an estimated 50 firefighters responded to the incident from eight separate departments.

D.J. Harris, Belington Chief of Police, said his department worked to provide traffic control while firefighters worked at the scene.

The Barbour County Sheriff’s Department and the West Virginia State Police were also on hand to help assist traffic around the blocked-off section of US route 250 that runs through downtown Belington.

Belington and Barbour County EMS responded as well, but no injuries were reported.

Hart said the fire spread quickly because of limited firewalls utilized in the construction of the structure.

“There were no firewalls between the building and between apartment units,” he said. “Between motel rooms 12 and 14 there was a block firewall but it had about a three-by-three foot hole that allowed the fire to extend and the fire was basically just traveling in the attic area above the block of rooms.”

Hart said the state Fire Marshal’s Office was on the scene Wednesday afternoon to investigate the incident and concluded the blaze began in the attic area. Foul play is not suspected.

“I want to commend the guys for doing an excellent job of stopping the fire because it very easily could have destroyed that whole section of hotel units and they were able to stop the fire from progressing,” Hart said.

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