A long-abandoned house in Bellaire caught fire and burned to the ground in the early hours Saturday morning.
Officials says some suspicious activity was witnessed in the area just before the fire. No one was injured or killed, and the next door neighbor says his dogs saved his life.
Mike Boston’s dogs woke him up just before 4 a.m., “Oh they was jumpin’ all over me. When I got up, I seen something red in the window. And I turned around and I seen it and I knew it was fire, you know. So I hurried up and gathered them up, put ’em out in the truck.”
Now he realizes they saved his life.
“If it wasn’t for my dogs…,” Boston said.
The fire was intense and had a substantial start.
“The main structure was already fully involved,” said Bellaire Fire Chief Richard Smith. “Already structural collapse, the whole house was already laying in the basement.”
They called in the State Fire Marshal’s office to investigate what they say is a suspicious fire.
“It’s definitely suspicious whenever there’s no power, power to the structure,” said Acting Bellaire Police Chief Dick Flanagan. “And it’s been vacant for so long. But that’ll be determined by the state fire marshal.”
Next door, Boston’s home and garage are visibly damaged.
“It got minor damage in the ceiling, in the attic part of my house,” Boston said. “And all the siding on this side of the house, the north side, is all burnt off. And my garage has substantial damage.”
“But Martins Ferry Fire Department was assigned to that structure,” Smith said. And they did a good job of saving that occupied structure.”
Flanagan, who is also the code enforcer, says he plans to track down the absentee landlord and order them to clear the lot immediately.
Neighbors say there are also three other long-unoccupied houses across the street from the one that burned. They say it’s a fire hazard, and a real problem in Bellaire.