Fatal Fire in Philippi, West Virginia Ruled Arson

PHILIPPI, W.Va. (AP) -- A Barbour County apartment building fire that killed two people over the weekend was deliberately set, state Fire Marshal's Office spokeswoman Kim O'Brien said Tuesday.

The bodies of a male and a female were found in a second-floor apartment after firefighters tried unsuccessfully to rescue them, Philippi police said.

Police Chief Mitch Payne identified the male victim as James M. Cleavenger, 50. He said he could not release the female victim's name until the state Medical Examiner's Office makes a positive identification.

The fire was reported at around 3:05 a.m. Saturday at a three-story building containing six apartments and a pawn shop. The building is owned by Henry Sharrow.

Residents of the other apartments escaped the fire without injury.

''We are investigating it as an arson at this time,'' Payne said. ''We do know the point of origin in the fire. We do believe it was intentional, an arson. We are not going to release any of that information yet, because we believe it may be detrimental to the investigation.''

The pawn shop on the first floor received smoke and water damage, and the apartments were heavily damaged and uninhabitable, Philippi police Sgt. J.W. Walters said.

Walters said the residents are receiving assistance from the Heart and Hand House of Philippi.

Information from: The Inter-Mountain