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Fire deemed arson

By Staff | Jun 3, 2009

REWARD OFFERED — A substantial award is being offered for information regarding a series of arson fires in Sistersville.

For the fourth time in as many months, the Sistersville Volunteer Fire Department and local law enforcement officers were dispatched to a structure fire in Sistersville. The most recent was at an abandoned home on Hill Street believed to be owned by Norman Todd.

The call came in on May 29 at approximately 10 p.m. and local units promptly responded to the scene. Though the initial report was the structure was fully engulfed, the emergency personnel found that was not the case and had the blaze contained quickly.

Sistersville Police Chief Dave Howell attributes the minimal damage to the property to a dedicated emergency team. “Due to the fast response of the fire department and the police department, the house was saved.”

“The guys did one heck of a job. Within 10-15 minutes they had the fire knocked down and then did a search of the house for extension fires,” remarked Fire Chief Steve Leasure.

“We as a town should absolutely thank the fire department for their quick response,” commented Howell. “Because the other houses around there are so close…it could have been bad.”

Fourteen members of the Sistersville VFD were on scene the night of the fire along with deputies from the Tyler County Sheriff’s Department, officers from the Sistersville Police Department, Paden City Volunteer Fire Department and Sistersville EMS.

Though the emergency effort was a great success and no injuries were reported in connection with the blaze, Howell and Leasure suspect a bigger problem.

“This is definitely a case of arson,” disclosed Leasure.

Leasure said that he believes the fires in recent months are connected to the most recent incident. “We’ve had three fires, two of the incidents were structure fires on Pike Street. There was also a brush fire across the street from the homes. It was also reported that the old crematory on Old 18 was smoldering, though the fire department was not called to respond.”

Though the West Virginia Fire Marshal has yet to respond to the damaged property at the most recent location, Howell and Leasure are confident he will agree with their findings in the investigation.

Howell added, “The fire marshal is dealing with cases where there are deaths and major property damage. So those cases take precedence over cases like this vacant house with little damage. Sometimes they take a little more time to get to us, fortunately no one has died in our cases. We don’t want that.”

The Hill Street fire is currently under investigation by the TCSD and SPD and there are no suspects at this time.

A reward of $2,500 is being offered for information that brings about a conviction. Additionally, the Sistersville VFD will offer $500. Anyone with information in regard to the arson fire is asked to call 304-652-7131.