KANAWHA COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – Emergency crews responded to a fire in Dunbar Sunday night that broke out across the street from Dunbar Middle School.
According to Dunbar Fire Chief Chris Thornhill, the fire started around 10:55 p.m. at 325 27th Street across the street from the school. Officials say the blaze was so hot that it damaged siding on a house about 50 feet away. The heat also caused “heavy damage” to one of the Dunbar fire trucks being used to extinguish the fire. That vehicle is now out of service until further notice.
Units from the Dunbar and South Charleston fire departments responded to the scene. Thornhill says at one point, the crews were pumping 1,000 to 2,000 gallons of water per minute to try to contain the fire.
No injuries were reported, officials say.
The fire chief says the source of the fire was building materials that were to be used to replace the roof on the school. The materials consisted primarily of stacks of compressed styrofoam. According to Thornhill, the type of material and how it was being stockpiled was a “worst-case scenario.” He says he is also concerned other schools in the county may be stockpiling similar materials the same way.
The West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Dunbar Fire Department are investigating the cause of the fire. Chief Thornhill says at this time, he is not leaning toward arson as a cause but is also not ruling out the possibility. The organizations will also use video footage from nearby surveillance cameras as part of their investigation.