The Sunday morning fire that destroyed the old Marsh Fork High School has been ruled an arson by Assistant State Fire Marshals Robbie Bailey and Ed Robinson.
"They (Bailey and Robinson) eliminated all chances the (fires) could have been accidental or natural fires," said Kim O'Brien with the state fire marshal's office.
The main school building was where the fire was originally seen, but according to a fire marshal's report, 12 smaller fires were discovered to have been set in the gymnasium as well.
Both sections of the school, which closed its doors in 2003, were destroyed.
After the Raleigh County Board of Education voted to consolidate Marsh Fork's students with Liberty High School in 2003, the school buildings and property reverted back to original land owner, Rowland Land Co.
The fire was reported to the Raleigh County Emergency Operations Center at 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning, and within 10 minutes of firefighters' arrival at the scene, Whitesvill
e Fire Department Chief Jim Hodges said half of the main building was engulfed in flames.
In addition to Whitesville, crews from Coal River, Trap Hill, Lester, Bradley-Prosperity, Danville, Racine and Madison were called in to assist.
Fire investigators are asking for information about anyone who may have been in the area of the school at the time of the fire.
Anyone with information is asked to call the West Virginia State Fire Marshal's 24-hour hotline at 1-800-233-3473.
A reward of up to $2,500 is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person regarding to an arson related crime.
Sunday, December 18, 2005 3:05 PM
Subject: Marsh Fork High School destroyed by fire...
Marsh Fork High School, closed since 2002 due after a hard fought consolidation battle, burned early Sunday morning around 3:00 a.m. and kept firefighters busy until close to noon. WV-3 was closed until around 8:00 a.m. when firefighters were able to clear the highway and the DOH spread salt so that the community members could attend church services.
The main building appeared to be the only structure damaged by fire. The gymnasium and annex did not appear to have suffered any damage as a result of the fire to the main building.
Whitesville, Racine, Madison and Danville Fire Departments from Boone County and Coal River, Clear Creek, Trap Hill, Lester and Bradley-Prosperity Fire Departments from Raleigh County all responded to the blaze with over 60 firefighters and
and more than 17 pieces of fire apparatus.
Whitesville and Best Ambulance Services were also on scene to assist and stand-by in the event of any injuries.
There were no injuries at the time that Best Ambulance cleared the scene. For further information please contact the Whitesville Fire Department at (304) 854-1197. Chief Jim Hodges, Assistant Chief Michael Lovejoy and Captain David Hodges were all on scene of the incident.