A house on KY 219 at Wallins Creek was destroyed by fire around 5 a.m. on Monday. Another house near this one caught on fire minutes later, but was contained by the Wallins Volunteer Fire Department. Three houses reportedly burned in the Tri-Cities area over the weekend, as well. More details will be available this evening and in Tuesday's edition of the Enterprise.
Harlan County was hit with fires all across the county over the weekend. An Evarts business sustained smoke damage after a fire was discovered during the early morning hours at Triple J Service Station. Three house fires were reported in Cumberland and two at Wallins Creek in the past few days.
Evarts Fire Chief Cledo Powers was one of the first to arrive on the scene of the fire at Triple J Service Station on Saturday morning. He said upon his arrival around 3 a.m., he found the station “filled with smoke.”
“The windows were black and the fire was pretty much smothered out,” said Powers. “The fire was contained to the office portion of the station. The cause of the fire is under investigation and the state fire marshal has been called in to investigate.”
Triple J station manager Density Lewis said she received a call at about 5 a.m. from an Evarts resident informing her that the station was “on fire.”
“When I got there the fire was put out,” said Lewis. “The Evarts Police Chief (Lupe Blas) was here. It appeared that someone had broken in the station and had set a recliner chair on fire with a candle. We think they may have gotten mad when they didn’t find money in the office and set the building on fire. We never keep money here at the station. We’ve had two burglaries in the past so we don’t leave any money.”
Lewis said the office portion of the station was destroyed and there was thousands of dollars worth of damage to equipment and furniture in the that area. She said no one was injured as a result of the fire.
“The owners of the station are considering offering a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the fire,” said Lewis. “We’ll be posting that reward if an arrest is not made in the near future.”
After receiving information regarding the nature of the fire at Triple J Service Station, Evarts police officer John Teagle contacted Marathon in regard to video surveillance from a nearby service station.
“There were four possible suspects seen around the crime scene,” said Teagle. “Two individuals were seen at Triple J’s and two other individuals were seen at the gas pumps at the Marathon. Witnesses said they appeared to be trying to get gas out of the gas pumps and they didn’t see a vehicle or anything around. We’ve taken this information and we’re trying to get in touch with the assistant manager at Marathon because they have surveillance cameras over their gas pumps. We’re hoping to get another lead from that information.”
Assisting the Evarts Fire Department were Yocum Creek Volunteer Fire Department, Evarts City Police Department and Harlan County Emergency Management Director David McGill. Harlan and Sunshine fire departments were on stand-by with tankers.
Cumberland Fire Chief Fess Eldridge had a busy weekend with two residential fires on Kingdom Come Drive and another on Ky 522 at Sand Hill.
“The first fire was at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Sand Hill and the home was destroyed,” said Eldridge. “Ray Baldwin and his family were living there. No one was at home at the time of the fire and by the time we got there it was too far gone. The family lost everything they had.”
Eldridge said the second fire was just off Kingdom Come Drive at about 10 a.m. on Sunday at an unoccupied residence. He said the home was destroyed.
“Later on during the day on Sunday, a residence next to the home that just burned off of Kingdom Come Drive caught on fire and was destroyed,” said Eldridge. “It was also unoccupied. We’re not sure if it caught from the first fire or not. The cause of all three fires are still under investigation.”
Assisting Cumberland Fire Department was the Cumberland City Police Department.
Wallins Volunteer Fire Department Chief Dean Green said he responded to a residential fire on Ky 219 in Wallins Creek at about 5 a.m. on Monday.
“Upon our arrival, the house was totally involved,” said Green. “The home belonged to Wendell Jones and was destroyed. The family lost everything. The fire started at the back of the house in the laundry room. We believe at this time, it was an electrical fire. Harlan EMS had to give Judy Jones some oxygen, but she didn’t have to go the hospital.”
Green said at about 5:10 a.m. on Monday, another fire was reported in the Wallins Creek area on Meadow Creek Road in a community called Ar
ound the World.
“The home was owned by Bill and Samatha Ball,” said Green. “There was only light damage done to this home. We suspect it was electrical and appeared to begin on the front porch with a light fixture. No one was injured in this incident.”
Assisting Wallins Volunteer Fire Department was Sunshine Volunteer Fire Department and Kentucky Utilities.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or at firstname.lastname@example.org