WILLIAMSON - As the investigation into the origin of a weekend fire that destroyed several businesses and apartments and left Pike Street in Williamson in ruins continues, the West Virginia State Fire Marshal has released the name of the victim who lost his life in the blaze.
The body of Robert Mitchell Smith, 48 years of age, who resided in one of the apartments that was destroyed, has been sent to the W.Va. State Medical Examiner’s Office for positive identification and autopsy to determine the exact cause of death. Four other residents of the apartments were transported to the Williamson Memorial Hospital for treatment of injuries sustained in the fire. One of those individuals, Gilford Muncy, was transferred to the burn unit of the Cabell Huntington Hospital where he remains in serious condition with third degree burns.
According to Williamson Fire Chief Jerry Mounts, preliminary reports from the State Fire Marshal assigned to the case points toward the fire starting in Muncy’s apartment, but the definite orgin is yet to be named.
On Monday morning at approximately 8:30 a.m., Mingo County 911 received a report of a fire at 551 Maple Walk in Williamson. Upon arrival, the firefighters found a furnace fire on the ground floor in the two family dwelling.
The rental property, owned by Sam Kapourales, was occupied by Tiffany Cline and her child. The child had spent the night with family and was not home at the time of the fire. Matthew Messarian, who resides across Maple Walk from Cline, said he was outside when the female came running out of the house, frantic from the realization that the dwelling was on fire, and attempted to go back in to collect personal belongings but said he prevented her from doing so.
“She did grab a couple of things that were directly inside the doorway including her purse, but I held her and didn’t let her go in again,” stated Messarian. “There’s no belongings that are worth risking your life over.”
Chief Mounts said that the fire itself was contained to the room in which it began, but added that the entire structure suffered smoke damage.
“We have prepared for different fire scenario’s here on Maple Walk, due to the fact that you cannot access the majority of these homes by vehicle, you have to use a sidewalk. We developed three different plans for access, depending on where the fire is located.”
“This plan was well rehearsed and played out perfectly with no problems,” said the chief.
The department responded with two engine companies and 8 firefighters.
A Monday morning blaze was also reported at a home in Hardy, Ky. but no details had been released from the Belfry Volunteer Fire Department as of press time.