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Fire destroys home, piece of history

June 1, 2012
By ANGELINA DICKSON - Staff writer ( , Weirton Daily Times

WEIRTON - A local woman lost her home and a piece of Weirton history on Thursday as the former home of Michael Starvaggi, owner of Weirton Ice & Coal Supply and founder of Starvaggi Industries, was destroyed by a fire.

Emergency responders received a call around 1:30 p.m. for a fully involved structure fire at 359 Pennsylvania Ave. where multiple fire departments were requested to the scene. Weirton Fire Department Captain Jerry Shumate said the structure fire was under control just after 3 p.m. and crews remained on scene late into the evening on fire watch. He said the structure fire destroyed the flooring of the house and the only thing left standing is the walls.

Shumate said access to the house could only be gotten by going up Ridge Avenue. He said Weirton's Engine 3, Tower 2 and Squad 7 reported to the scene where crews had to carry 600 feet of 5-inch supply line to get to the fire because there are no fire hydrants along Ridge Avenue. In addition, Follansbee Volunteer Fire Department was also called resulting in more than 20 individuals responding to the call.

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"We called in tanker support from Hanover Volunteer Fire Department, Hooverson Heights Fire Department and the Colliers Fire Department who responded promptly to the scene," he said. "Steubenville Fire Department was called to the scene as well while several off-duty firefighters and volunteers were called in to the scene and to cover the city's two stations."

Traffic along the section of Pennsylvania Avenue, between Weir Avenue and the former Starvaggi bus garage, also had to be blocked to allow access for emergency personnel and equipment.

As a safety precaution, Weirton Area Ambulance and Rescue Squad Inc. remained on scene until the fire was under control. Shumate said there were no injuries and homeowner Jennifer Firm was not at home at the time of the fire.

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THURSDAY FIRE — Fire crews from Weirton and five other area departments responded to a structure fire in Weirton Thursday afternoon. The house, owned by Jennifer Firm, once belonged to Michael Starvaggi, the founder of Starvaggi Industries. No one was injured as a result of the fire. -- Craig Howell

The West Virginia Fire Marshal's Office and the Weirton Fire Department will continue to investigate the fire. Shumate said because of the amount of damage caused by the fire - resulting in a total loss of the house - it will be nearly impossible to discover the cause of the fire.

(Dickson can be contacted at

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