W.Va. Building Where Fire Killed 7 Lacked Sprinklers

There was no sprinkler system in the five-story apartment building where fire killed at least seven people, including a child, fire officials said.

“I think they would have made a huge difference,” Fire Chief Greg Fuller told reporters.

While sprinklers are not required under state law, smoke alarms are, and investigators were checking whether the circa-1924 building was in compliance. Several smoke alarms were found, Fuller said.

Two people remained missing Monday.

The fire broke out last Saturday night in a second-floor unit, shooting flames and smoke up utility access channels to the upper floors. City Fire Marshal David Bias said it could take days to identify the cause.

Resident Dreama Tackit said her family made it out safely.

“All I heard was people screaming ‘Get my baby out of here!”‘ Tackit said. “And then it was like ‘Run! Run! Run!”‘

Firefighters found three bodies Saturday and four more Sunday, all on the top story. Fuller said the building’s roof and part of the top floor had collapsed, hampering search efforts in this Ohio River city.

Fourteen people were rescued. Five people, including a firefighter, were treated for smoke inhalation and burns, with one patient remaining in critical condition.

The building housed city residents and students from Marshall University. Fuller said the building is owned by Woodlark Enterprises Inc. of White Plains, N.Y., which owns a number of Huntington buildings. There was no immediate response to calls seeking comment from the company.