By RICHARD BELISLE
5:43 PM EST, March 4, 2013
CHARLES TOWN, W.Va.
A 65-year-old Jefferson County woman died on her birthday Monday in an early-morning fire that destroyed the home in which she lived with her daughter in the Tuscawilla Hills subdivision.
The victim, Jeanne Thomas of 75 Packett Drive, was identified by Sgt. R.L. Fletcher of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.
Adrienne Thomas, 25, managed to escape the burning single-story house, according to Capt. Adam Watson of Independent Fire Co. Watson, who lives nearby, said he arrived at the scene within minutes of the 1:30 a.m. alarm.
Adrienne Thomas was standing outside the house when Watson arrived. She was taken to Jefferson Memorial Hospital, where she was treated and released, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Jim Starkey, a next-door neighbor, said he heard Adrienne Thomas crying out for her mother.
“I saw that the house was 60 percent involved,” Watson said. “There was no way any of us could go in there.”
Left standing were small sections of a corner wall, a portion of a wall of the attached garage, and the fireplace and chimney. The rest collapsed into the basement, said Patrick Barker, a West Virginia Fire Marshal’s Office investigator.
The victim’s body was found in the basement, Barker said. It was taken to the state medical examiner’s office in Morgantown, W.Va., for an autopsy, he said.
Barker said the cause of the fire is under investigation. He said he could not recall how long it has been since a fire claimed a life in Jefferson County.
“It’s been quite a while,” he said.
One of the family’s two dogs died in the blaze. The other ran off and had not returned by Monday afternoon.
Two cars parked in front of the garage were destroyed. Several neighbors said they recalled hearing loud explosions when the vehicles’ gas tanks exploded.
Watson said crews knocked down the fire in about an hour, but remained at the scene for 10 hours.
Watson said all seven Jefferson County fire departments were at the scene, in addition to units from Washington County, Md., Clarke County, Va., and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Martinsburg, W.Va.
The Baker Heights Fire Co. sent a truck and crew to stand by at the Independent Fire Co. firehouse.
Copyright © 2013, Herald Mail