Abandoned house damaged by fire in Martins Ferry

Firefighters in Martins Ferry respond to a blaze at an abandoned house on Crawford Street Wednesday. No one was hurt, but neighbors are concerned by the house’s proximity to them. Photo Provided

MARTINS FERRY — City firefighters responded to a structure fire at an abandoned house on Crawford Street on Wednesday afternoon.

No one was hurt in the incident, but nearby neighbors were shaken by the proximity of the blaze to their homes and are concerned for the safety of their own properties.

Next-door neighbor David Babka was there when the fire broke out around 1:40 p.m. He said a neighbor across the street initially saw the blaze and phoned the fire department.

“I saw where the fire was. I went in, turned the hose on and I was spraying it down as much as I could,” he said, adding that firefighters soon arrived to battle the flames.

Babka said the fire seems to have begun on the second floor of the home.

“I could see where the fire was growing inside of the roofline where the wires had come in,” he said. “Martins Ferry responded very quickly to what was going on.

“I am concerned with any hot spots, hopefully not. They disconnected the power to the property,” Babka said.

He speculated about the cause.

“The overhangs were starting to degrade, and I got a feeling where the power leads came in off the line there, the … insulators that they use, I think the wood may have caved in. Something shorted out, it was definitely electrical, you can tell. … As I was spraying it with the hose, I could see that it was still sparking, it would spark right back up again, so something was still connected up there. I was glad to see when the power company did come and take it off,” he said.

Babka said his background is in coal mining and the elevator trade.

“I’ve seen buildings when they’ve been on fire,” he said, adding he has also seen underground fires. “That was very intense.

“But being here … being next door, that’s always a concern because the houses are so close together,” he said. “Everything is fixable. I’m just glad the fire didn’t jump between the two houses. … I’m about 7, 8 feet away from this house. The (neighbor) on the other side, she’s about 3 or 4 feet away. It makes a big difference when the houses are this close together and they’re being let go or they’re not being kept up to the point where something is going to happen and it’s just a matter of time.”

He said the house was last rented in 2013 and the owner has maintained the yard, but Babka has been worried that the house was becoming dilapidated and a hazard.

“We’ve been talking to the city about it,” he said. “The roof was so dry. It went pretty quick.”

Babka said he and his wife, Julia, have concerns about future damage should the house collapse or debris strike their own home. He also pointed out heat damage to his house that he said came from the fire.

“It melted the siding on the side of my house … plus the house looks like it’s leaning now more than a foot,” Babka said. “I don’t know if the foundation with all the water has shifted, I’m not sure.”

Another neighbor, who did not want to be named, said she also was worried that the house might cave in and damage her home. She said the house had been an ongoing concern and that she felt there were many dilapidated buildings in the city that should be torn down.

Officials with the Martins Ferry Volunteer Fire Department could not be reached for comment late Wednesday. According to Martins Ferry dispatch, firefighters from Martins Ferry and Bridgeport responded.


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