WHEELING - Firefighters battled a massive blaze at 42 Kentucky St. on Wheeling Island late Tuesday.
Numerous eyewitnesses feared that an elderly woman may have been trapped and killed in the blaze. Wheeling police and fire officials would neither confirm nor deny those reports at press time.
"One person who was inside got out. Other than that, we are still investigating," said Wheeling Fire Chief Larry Helms while still on scene of the fire late Tuesday, noting he did not yet know the name of the woman who escaped. Helms added that he believed the woman may have lived in the house with her mother.
Photo by Casey Junkins
Wheeling firefighters work at a house fire at 42 Kentucky St. on Wheeling Island Tuesday night.
The blaze drew a crowd of concerned neighbors and residents to the scene. The combination of snowfall and water being pumped onto the burning structure created very wet and sloppy conditions for firefighters and witnesses.
Police officers blocked off several surrounding streets to keep traffic away from the scene. A pair of dogs were escorted away from the building.
Helms said the structure is a total loss.
As firefighters made their way through the building, they feared the chimney would completely collapse.
Helms said the adjacent structure was protected from the blaze.
"We are not yet sure what caused it," Helms added.