Chesapeake fire destroys building

Published 10:47 am Tuesday, January 6, 2009

CHESAPEAKE — Heidi Jackson was asleep Monday night when a neighbor who had locked himself out of his apartment knocked on her door.

The man said he needed a ride to get a spare set of keys and Jackson’s boyfriend, Derrick Keeton,offered to give the neighbor a lift.

By the time the two men got back less than 15 minutes later they saw their homes going up in flames.

Email newsletter signup

Jackson and Keeton shared one of the three apartments above Deeds Family Vision Care on County Road 1 in Chesapeake.

“I heard the smoke alarm going off in (the neighbor’s) place,” said Jackson, an adult case manager for Prestera Center, in Huntington, W.Va.

At first, she thought it was from the third apartment.

“I thought it was Mildred’s, that she cooked something and it went off,” Jackson said. “Mildred came to my apartment and knocked on the door and said ‘I see smoke.’ ”

Jackson then checked out the apartment of the neighbor who had locked himself out.

“There was only a little bit of smoke coming through his door frame,” she said. “I told her ‘Hurry up and get your stuff I’m going to call 911.’ ”

Jackson rushed back to her place and grabbed sandals and a winter coat to put over her pajamas.

“The place was filling up with smoke,” she said. “As soon as we walked outside flames were shooting out of one of the windows. I thought ‘Oh my God, there really is a fire. ‘ ”

The call went out about 10 p.m. Monday to the Chesapeake/Union Township fire department, according to Ed Webb, assistant chief.

“We had one resident in the apartment and he said he was only to be gone for a few minutes and had left grease on the stove,” Webb said. “When he came back all the fire trucks were there.”

For six hours, Chesapeake firefighters joined by units from Rome, Burlington, Fayette 1 and 2 and Proctorville departments battled the blaze.

The closest hydrant was 800 feet from the building across County Road 1 forcing firefighters to shut down the road until 4 a.m. this morning, Webb said.

“The building will probably be a total loss. The roof has collapsed in. There were multiple trucks there throwing water.”

Hampering firefighters was a new rubberized roof that had been placed on top of a tar roof.

“When you get fire with tar and rubber and intense heat, it is very difficult to contain,” Webb said.

There was little fire damage to the downstairs business, but it did sustain considerable water damage, he said.

“All of the water had gone into the equipment and records,” Webb said. “Firefighters went in and tried to retrieve some computer records. How much we helped I don’t know. I’m thankful there was no injury … just some sore bones and muscles.”