By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Little did the Volunteer Fire Department members realize, but they were able to utilize some of their new training and skills a lot sooner than anticipated. This past week has been full of call outs including two businesses on fire, two deployed water search and rescue crews, and two motor vehicle accident. Thankfully, all ended on a lot more positive note than they could have without the fast response and appropriate action of our first responders, both local and neighboring.
Beginning on Thursday, May 30, around 11 p.m. Carlo Ricottilli said Charley Dumire and his son Charley “Bubby” were heading home from an evening at their shop when his son noticed smoke rolling from the Ricottilli Lumber Sawmill. Acting fast, Ricottilli said the two good Samaritans not only called 911, but they grabbed fire extinguishers and prevented the fire from spreading until the Parsons Volunteer Fire Department arrived on scene along with Leading Creek for back up. Company 10 PVFD Chief Kevin White explained, “Anytime we get something like that, before we even get on scene we usually call for people just because we don’t know what we’re getting into.” When asked how significant the fire was upon arrival, he said, “They (the Dumire’s) had pretty well knocked it down and had it contained with fire extinguishers before we got there.” They continued dousing the flames and fuel sources with water and removed several items to prevent rekindling.
Owner Carlo Ricottilli stated a spark from a machine earlier that day had smoldered and caught fire after work. When asked how much damage incurred from the fire, Ricottilli responded, “No not very much, we had it fixed in a day.” He was very grateful for the Dumire Family containing the fire until the Fire Department arrived to fully extinguish the flames.
The next day, Friday, May 31, between 3:30 and 4 p.m., 911 received a call from individuals passing by near the Dry Fork River. They spotted what appeared to be an unattended dog in the river struggling to get to land. A water search and rescue crew deployed; and floated approximately three or four miles down the Dry Fork River, but were unable to locate the animal.
Friday night, yet another call came in reporting a single vehicle accident with entrapment at “Wild Maggie Curve”. According to White, there was no apparent reason for the accident and the driver in the vehicle was transported to Davis Memorial Hospital once extricated from the vehicle. Parsons Company 10 VFD was the only crew responding at this particular event.
On Saturday morning, Company 10 assisted Preston County with search and rescue on the Cheat River. This was a joint effort in locating the missing Tunnelton man, Phillip “Buckie” Barlow, who has been missing since Tuesday, May 28. The swift water crew floated portions of the Cheat River, in conjunction with Preston County, in attempts to find evidence leading to finding Barlow. “At this time I don’t believe anything has been found yet,” commented White.
Around 1 p.m. Saturday, another 911 call came in reporting a motorcycle accident on Miller Hill, Route 72. Company 10 responded to find a gentleman from out of town that was believed to have gotten into gravel and lost control. The patient was transported to DM for treatment of his injuries.
Saturday evening around 7:45 p.m., Nick and Courtney Barb were on their way to Elsewhere Salon to do some after hours work on the shop. “We just so happened to be in the right place at the right time, I mean before the fire got any worse,” C. Barb said. We pulled in to do a little work at the shop and we noticed a good bit of smoke pouring from the roof of the Vape shop (Hillbilly Vape, owned by David Stemple). I called 911 immediately,” she continued. “It was disheartening; we were watching someone’s livelihood being lost. We were also concerned about the other buildings since they’re all attached,” she said. While C. Barb was on the phone with 911, N. Barb checked the nearby apartment to ensure no one was home at the time, which fortunately there was not. “Fortunately we have an amazing Fire Department and they responded quickly. Our hearts go out to Dave and what he has lost,” she added.
Once on scene, Front Street was blocked off by the ladder truck to gain aerial access via the front business, while attack crews quickly scurried up ladders from Second Street to open the roof of Hillbilly Vape. White explained this is performed as standard procedure to ventilate the roof, forcing air through the establishment to locate the fire. This enabled the responders to locate the point of origin, which is believed to be caused by an undetermined electrical appliance, which lead to the fire also getting into the ceiling. The fire was quickly dispersed, but not before heavy damage was already done. Firefighters continued thoroughly investigating the building to ensure there weren’t hotspots remaining undetected which could result in re-ignition.
Owner, David Stemple, said, “I strongly suspect the fire started from a defective e-cig venting a lithium ion battery. The shop is a mess and I really haven’t had a chance to assess the full extent of the damage or sort anything yet, but a majority of my products were electronic in nature and electronics tend not to react well to fire, smoke, water, or heat and are probably a complete loss.” Upon early observation, he believes some of the pipes, body jewelry, signs, license plates, and non electronic items may have been spared from the fire, however he saw bottles of e-juice melted to the shelving that were positioned on the opposite side of the shop from the fire, showing the intensity of the heat.
He stated, “We had just renovated the building a few years prior and the extent of the damage is basically that most of the work done over the past several years has been undone in the matter of a few hours.” Stemple also added, “I am thankful that the fire department responded so quickly and that no one was injured, that’s always the most important thing as buildings can be rebuilt, inventory can be repurchased, and I have hopes that we’ll be back up and running at some point.”
The fire was contained to the single store within the building, which is owned by Ren Adkins. Responding to the fire along with Parsons VFD was Thomas and Leading Creek. This is a common practice due to the nature of the buildings to prevent the fire from spreading to neighboring establishments. White reported heavy damage inside from fire and smoke as well as water damage from the dispersal. Most importantly, nobody was hurt.