Two house fires in Boone County being investigated by authorities.
The first fire on Ebony Lane at Ottawa totally destroyed a home where several adults and children lived.
That fire happened last night around midnight, and those living in the home have told fire investigators the blaze was no accident. Threats were allegedly made against the six people left homeless by the fire, according to one of the women living in the home.
“I think it was intentionally set,” said Jennifer Workman. “It has to do with a custody battle.”
Workman said she was just in court the day before regarding custody of a child. After being awarded temporary custody of the child she found out later that night that the house she had been living in had been totally destroyed by fire.
“Thank God we were all over staying in Chapmanville,” she said.
State Police are looking into those claims and are interviewing family members.
West Virginia State Police Sgt. Charles Sutphin said the State Fire Marshal’s Office has been called in to investigate the fire.
Sutphin has reached out to both the Red Cross and local YWCA to help the victims, who lost everything in the fire.
The second fire on Highland Avenue at Laurel City, close to the Ebony Lane fire, totally destroyed a home around 4:30 a.m., this morning.
Joe Backus, 37, and his wife, Elizabeth, and son, Hunter, live in the house next door and were renting the house that burned.
No one injured and the man Backus was renting the home to, Edward Ball, is currently in jail.
“I guess he will be looking for a new place to rent,” he said.
Backus said he attempted to fight the fire with a water hose, but the intense heat cracked windows and damaged siding in his house next door, He also suffered minor burns his hand and arm, causing him to retreat.
The power line also came down on his house next door.
“We had live power lines on our front porch and it was scary to go around them,” Backus said.
Backus said he believes the fire was an accident, possibly electrical in nature.
“It’s just a mess and I didn’t have any insurance on the house at all,” he said. “I have lived here most of my life and it’s sad to see it totally destroyed.”
The State Fire Marshal’s Office will also be investigating the second fire as well.
Anyone with any information about either of these fires is urged to call the Madison detachment of West Virginia State Police at 304-369-7800.