Fire rips through four buildings in downtown Grafton

 GRAFTON—The landscape of downtown Grafton was altered, after a fire tore through four structures on Friday morning, closing down Main Street for most of the day.


According to Grafton Fire Department Officials, at approximately 6:30 a.m., the department was alerted to a smoke investigation on West Main Street. Before arriving on scene, firefighters were notified that there were two buildings fire.


Once on scene, and while awaiting the mutual aid of surrounding agencies, the Grafton Fire Department sprang into action with fire suppression tactics.


The department utilized an exterior attack of the blaze, for firefighter safety due to the age and condition of the buildings, which stood vacant. The department’s ladder truck arrived on scene and offered an aerial attack on the flames.


Bridgeport Fire Department’s ladder trucks was also called to the scene to assist with the aerial assault. Crews from Flemington, Fellowsville, Nutterfort and Valley District Fire Departments were also on scene to help battle the blaze.


The Taylor County Emergency Squad, Grafton Police Department, Taylor County Sheriff’s Department and the Grafton Public Works Department were also on scene.


The companies were able to contain the fire to the two interior buildings on the block, and through their diligent efforts the two flanking structures were spared.


“We appreciate the help of those fire departments who came to assist us on scene today,” said Grafton Fire Department’s Deputy Chief Ryan Roberts. “Without them, the outcome could have been much different.


During the incident, flames spread to a third building situated behind initial location of the fire. Although crews worked hard to combat the inferno, the flames claimed the abandoned apartment building.


In total, three structures were deemed complete losses, two sustained moderate fire and water damage and the building across the street from the blaze, which houses Leonard’s Grill, received minimal damage, as the heat to the fire cause windows to crack and window frames to melt.


After battling the blaze for approximately eight hours, Grafton Fire Chief Wayne Beall reported that the fire was under control. However, he shared that firefighters would be working into the evening and night attending to hot spots as they attempted to rekindle.


“The quick response our members was outstanding and helped to keep the fire from spreading further than it had. They did a fantastic job,” voiced Beall. “As always, we are grateful to the other departments who come in a help us in our time of need. Their hard work is truly appreciated.”


During the incident, Leonard’s Grill opened their doors to first responders, acting as a place to prepare and serve food and drinks provided the Grafton Fire Department.


“We really appreciated that they offered their location up to us,” said Roberts.


After the fire was extinguished, the City of Grafton brought in excavators to remove the buildings that had been destroyed by the fire, as they posed a risk to the safety of passersby.


Until the storefronts were removed and the threat of injury mitigated, US Route 119, Main Street, remained closed to traffic. The roadway was opened back up to traffic at approximately 4:30 p.m.


According to Beall, the fire is suspicious in nature and is being investigated by the Grafton Police Department and the West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office.


© 2020-Mountain Statesman

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