ADRIAN – The West Virginia State Fire Marshal is en route to Upshur County to investigate a structure fire that fully engulfed the Holly Apartments near the railroad tracks in Adrian Thursday afternoon.
Upshur County Sheriff Virgil Miller said the State Fire Marshal’s Office is on its way to investigate the fire that devastated the structure, caused smoke to billow far into the sky and entirely shut down Route 20 for several hours Thursday afternoon.
The fire, which broke out just before 1:30 p.m., is likely to result in a total loss, according to several people on scene. At the height of the blaze, all Upshur County firefighters were called to respond as firefighters worked to gain entry into the building, battle the fire and search the approximately dozen apartments.
A witness to the early stages of the fire was driving with her mother-in-law and three children from her mother-in-law’s residence in the French Creek/Rock Cave area north toward Buckhannon when saw smoke, flames, and a man in the middle of the road throwing rocks at vehicles. The woman pulled her truck into the Adrian Post Office parking lot.
“At the beginning, there was just a small amount of smoke coming out of the bottom of the building and more flames,” she said. “There was very, very little smoke then, but by the time we left, there was a just a massive amount of smoke – the whole area was just covered in smoke.”
Her mother-in-law called 911.
“There were people outside the apartment screaming that there were people trapped inside,” she added. “I don’t know if that’s true, but I’m not sure if that’s ever going to leave my mind. That just makes you feel sick.”
No details were immediately available about potential injuries as firefighters remained on scene battling the blaze late Thursday afternoon.
Miller said the fire was suspicious.
“We are standing by for the fire marshal to get on scene, because there’s suspicion with this fire that it was intentional,” he said.
At least one individual has been arrested in connection with the fire. Miller said Tyler Arbogast, 27, of Buckhannon was arrested on three misdemeanor charges – battery on a firefighter, destruction of property and obstructing an officer.
“He was a resident of the Holly Apartments, and he’s on his way to the Tygart Valley Regional Jail right now,” Miller said.
As of 3:30 p.m., the bulk of the fire had been knocked down but firefighters remained on scene to fully extinguish the blaze.