Bridgeport fire claims three lives

BRIDGEPORT – Three children died Sunday after a fire destroyed a Bridgeport home.

Authorities are releasing little information regarding the fire, which took crews more than six hours to extinguish Sunday afternoon. The fire in 300 block of Main Street was reported just after 11 a.m. Sunday, with crews from several neighboring communities responding.

According to reports, three children, ages 2, 4 and 5, died as a result of the fire. The Belmont County coroner was at the scene, but no information was released. The children’s parents reportedly were taken to a Pittsburgh hospital. Calls to Bridgeport police were not immediately returned, and a Bridgeport Fire Department dispatcher said no information would be released Sunday night.

Smoke could be seen from the apartment building, which housed four separate apartments and a television repair shop, from across the river in Wheeling. Several onlookers watched as a ladder truck fought back the flames, which quickly engulfed the building. Main Street, as well as U.S. 40 in Bridgeport, were closed for an extended period to allow the various agencies to quickly respond. Crews were still battling the fire at 3 p.m. Sunday, though the fire appeared to have been contained to the rear of the building closest to Interstate 70.

Even though the apartment building was a loss, the Bridgeport Municipal Building, which is located next to the home, sustained little – if any – damage. According to Bridgeport Mayor John Callarik, the quick response of neighboring departments, particularly the Martins Ferry Fire Department and its ladder truck, saved several more buildings from catching fire.

“Without that ladder truck, the whole block could have been gone,” Callarik said.

Although Callarik said he was unable to give specific details on potential injuries or other similar matters, he said the building had several thick walls which made it difficult for firefighters to get to the flames.

“There were so many walls and tight corners that made the fire hard to get to,” he said.

Also presenting a challenge was a water break on Main Street just east of the fire. Callarik said a 10-inch line broke at about the same time as the fire was reported. He said the city used all of the water in its tanks and was receiving extra water from the county in an effort to battle the blaze.

“We had to let the water keep running, and with so many hoses running it really hurt us,” he said.

Crews were on the scene of that break late Sunday night attempting to restore water to customers, though no timeframe was given. Main Street in the 300 block was reopened by 7 p.m. Sunday, and investigators were expected to be at the scene today.