ADRIAN – At least four cats and three dogs perished in a blaze that demolished the Holly Apartments in Adrian Thursday afternoon.
Buckhannon Fire Department career firefighter John Brugnoli said no one was injured immediately at the scene of the fire, but at least seven pets died as a result of the fire, which originated on the first floor and quickly ripped through the entire structure, including an attic.
All residents living in the 12-unit apartment building had evacuated the structure by the time first responders arrived on scene just before 1:30 p.m. While no one was injured on scene, Upshur EMS was dispatched out to the location some time later.
“No one was taken to the hospital at the time of the fire, but later after the fire was out, there was a person – a resident – who had complained of difficulty breathing, so the ambulance was dispatched back to that area,” Brugnoli said.
The Buckhannon Fire Department, Adrian Volunteer Department, Banks District Volunteer Fire Department, and soon after, all fire departments in the county, were paged to the apartment building, which is located just past the railroad tracks in Adrian.
Brugnoli, who arrived first on scene along with volunteer firefighter Brian Potter, said although the building is comprised of 12 units, only about 10 were occupied. He estimated a total of 25 people were living there at the time.
Due to the suspicious nature of the fire, the state fire marshal arrived to investigate and was on scene until about 8 p.m. Thursday, Brugnoli said.
“Someone was seen leaving the building, and a firefighter was injured, a volunteer – not badly, but the person bit him in the abdomen,” he said. “He didn’t break skin, but it’s going to hurt tomorrow.”
Upshur County Sheriff’s deputies arrested one person on three misdemeanor charges, including battery of a firefighter, obstructing a police officer and destruction of property.
Holly Apartments is believed to be a total loss.
“The building is still standing, and there were some personal belongings in one apartments on the southern side that were salvageable, but all the units have smoke and water damange,” Brugnoli said. “One of the floors collapsed, and the roof partially collapsed.”
Brugnoli said it’s unclear what started the fire, but one of the hardest parts of putting it out was accessing the apartments above and adjacent to the first-floor unit in which it originated due to a collapsed second floor.
City and county firefighters were on scene for nearly four hours Thursday.