Early morning fire claims two young lives

Debbie Rolen drolen@civitasmedia.com

October 21, 2013

City of Logan Fire Chief Scott Beckett said the call came in about 4:50 a.m. this morning about a structure fire on Canton Lane near the site of the old state police office.

Firefighters knew before they went in there was a possibility two were trapped by the fire, which had been burning possibly 30-40 minutes before discovery.

When the firefighters arrived, they found fire was already through the roof, and two small children were trapped inside.

“This was a bad deal. There were no smoke detectors inside the home. It was old-style construction. I would rather have had a different outcome and seen the children go to school this morning,” said Beckett, “But, unfortunately, that’s not the outcome we had. It is a bad situation for everybody.”

The West Virginia State Fire Marshal ruled the fire was accidental and due to an electrical problem.

The house was a two-family dwelling. Michael Williams, his girlfriend Shantell Sydney and her two children Dontarius Gardner, 3, and Shania Sydney, 4, were home when the fire started. The two people who occupied the other side of the home were Sydney’s parents, Henry and Wilma West, who got out safely.

Michael Williams told WSAZ reporters Dontarius and Shania were in a back bedroom and their mother, Shantell and him tried to get to them, but the flames were too intense.

Shania was in Pre-K at Verdunville Elementary. A spokesperson with Logan County Schools says counselors are at the school helping students and staff deal with this tragedy.

Chief Beckett wants to take this opportunity to remind everyone to make sure to have smoke detectors installed on every floor and in every bedroom.

“Fire is a killer. Smoke detectors save lives, there is no doubt about that,” said Beckett, “After hearing about this tragedy, there shouldn’t be a smoke detector or nine-volt battery left on the store shelves.”

Beckett also wants to remind families to check out their heating systems, especially space heaters and any type of wood heater.

“With the weather turning cooler, it’s time to check these units out and make sure they are in good working order. Make sure they aren’t near anything combustible when they are in use. Some models may come equipped with automatic cut-offs, but it’s better to make sure they aren’t near anything that could possibly catch on fire,” said Beckett.