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Huntington's 10th suspicious fire of 2019 damages three homes

A vacant home caught fire in the 1200 block of Ninth Avenue in Huntington, spreading to two nearby homes, including the home of 97-year-old Marylee Crawford. (WCHS/WVAH)

Fire tore through three Ninth Avenue homes in Huntington Tuesday afternoon, starting in the center home and spreading damage to one home on either side including that of 97-year-old Marylee Crawford and her daughter, Lynn Crawford.

Both watched their home, their clothes, and their memories burn from across the street.

“My husband is dead, and things he gave me, jewelry and everything, is up there,” Marylee Crawford said. “This breaks my heart because I know the upstairs is a mess.”

As they ran from the home, members of nearby church group Rebuild Huntington ran to them, helped them to safety and prayed with them.

“They’re safe. They’re here. Thank God,” Ruth Thomas, Rebuild Huntington member, said.

While they were thankful for the Crawfords' safety, neighbors were angry about the why the fire likely started.

Fire Chief Jan Rader said the home the fire started in had no electricity or other utilities, neighbors reported that the home had been vacant for two years, and the Crawfords said homeless people would regularly break into the home and take shelter inside.

“This is being investigated right now as suspicious,” Rader said.

Huntington city officials said they have been aggressive in recent years about demolishing vacant or dangerous properties.

City Communications Director Bryan Chambers said of the average 200 homes on the unsafe housing list, the city has demolished 55 since the fall 2017 and hope to demolish double that number in the coming year.

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