Huntington, WV Guyandotte Fire Destroys Businesses, Nov 1988

An early morning fire Thursday destroyed at least four businesses in Guyandotte and threatened homes and a nearby library before firefighters brought it under control.

Joe Nance, Huntington Fire Department deputy chief, said five engines and one ladder truck arrived at the 200 block of Bridge Street at about 1:30 a.m. Thursday. Twenty-five firefighters spent several hours fighting the fire, and some remained until 10 a.m.

The fire destroyed Larry Hamlin's Barber and Styling Shop and the Powder Puff Beauty Salon, both at 207 Bridge Street, Black's Refrigeration Service at 205 Bridge Street, and a grocery store on the block that had closed last week.

Crummett's Drug Store at 201 Bridge Street was heavily damaged, and firefighters were unsure if anything in the building could be saved, Nance said.

Larry Hamlin, owner of the barbershop, said the fire was the third in almost five years on the 200 block of River Street.

"They've all been arson," he said.

He was out of business for 13 weeks after the first fire, but he said he doesn't expect to reopen his shop at the same location. His aunt, Ferne Conkright, owns the property where Hamlin's shop has been for thirteen years.

Although Hamlin said the fire was intentionally set, he said he didn't know who started it.

Nance said an investigator was on the scene Thursday morning, but Nance was unaware of any evidence of arson.

"There's nothing at this point that would lead us to believe it is arson, " he said Thursday night. But the investigation will continue, he added.

The firefighter's about 12 who were on duty and 13 who were called in, were concerned with keeping the fire from spreading any farther, Nance said.

The firefighers were concerned that the fire might spread to the Cabell County library branch, which is just east of the block that burned, and to a residential neighborhood, Nance said.

Hamlin said he expects the burned part of the block to be leveled.

"I expect it's all going to be bulldozed," Hamlin said.

But some friends with barbershops in the area have offered to let Hamlin share their shops until he can decide where to move.

"I'll be cutting hair in Guyandotte hopefully by Monday," Hamlin said.

Article by Katie Avent
Herald Dispatch, 25 November 1988