West Virginia House Fire Claims Ninth Victim, a 7-Year-Old Boy, Dies

By OLIVIA KATRANDJIAN and (@alyssanewcomb)
March 25, 2012

A ninth victim, a 7-year-old boy, died today from the tragic house fire in Charleston, W.Va., that killed two adults and six other children.

Bryan Timothy Camp was taken off life support this morning.

“I talked to our, what would be our emergency services chaplain, and he was there … when the young man was taken off the ventilator,” Charleston Assistant Fire Chief Bob Sharp said.

Sharp said the firefighters who were first on the scene Saturday will be offered counseling when they return to work on Monday.

“When you hold a young child in your hands, especially if you know that there’s no chance that they survived, that’s tough on anybody and then, some of these had children of their own, you know, it’s almost like holding their own child in their arms,” he said.

Sharp told ABC News that officials do not believe it was a case of arson, but are investigating how the early-morning blaze started.

“We do know that, you know, the one lady, that she smoked, and we do know that they had candles in the house, and we’re going to pursue some of those other things. But we’ve not found anything suspicious, we have not found anything electrical,” said Sharp.

According to the mayor, inspectors were supposed to check the home on Feb. 28, and had received permission from the woman who owned and managed the home. But when inspectors arrived, they were told by a juvenile to come back when an adult was at home, city officials said Saturday.

“If we had gotten in to inspect we might have saved a lot of lives,” Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said. “One of the messages we got out of this tragedy we need to have inspectors.”

The home had only one working smoke detector, and it was not in a location where it would have helped, city officials said.

“Where it was at, it wouldn’t have helped at all,” Sharp said. “I’ve been here 26 years and never had this many fatalities period and especially involving children in a single family dwelling.”

Officials said there needs to be at least one smoke detector on the first floor and one in every bedroom.

“Had they abided by international property maintenance code a lot of people would’ve been alive that aren’t alive today,” said Jones.

The victims appear to have been sleeping when they died, officials said.

“These bodies looked like they were frozen in time, like a statue,” Jones said.

One woman escaped the two-story dwelling around 3:30 a.m. Saturday and called 911 from a neighbor’s home. An ambulance and fire trucks arrived within four minutes, but the house had already burned down.

For now, investigators are sifting through the debris, hoping to find clues of what caused what they called the worst fire in Charleston’s history.

“I mean it was quite a hot fire, you know coming out, fully involved out the front, it had already vented itself, so we know there was no survivability in the front room at all,” Sharp said.

Source: ABC News &  ABC News Radio contributed to this report

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