CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Authorities are looking for a suspect after two buildings were set ablaze on Charleston's West Side.
City firefighters were called about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday to a vacant building on Washington Street West near Charleston Department Store.
Fire Investigator Wes Smith said the building used to be a church but had been boarded up since at least the first of the year to keep vagrants and squatters out of the structure.
Smith said the fire was started on the outside of the building near the foundation and spread inside.
"Normally it doesn't happen that way," Smith said of the arson. "Normally they're going to bust up inside and set it there.
"It was old wood and it didn't take a whole lot to get it going."
The building was destroyed in the fire, Smith said.
At nearly the same time, fire was set to a piece of wood on a garage door at the CARES facility in the same block. CARES is a state-licensed facility where intoxicated individuals, some of whom may have been arrested for public intoxication, can sober up.
Smith said the fire was small. A facility manager put the fire out with a fire extinguisher, to Smith's knowledge.
The investigator said so far they've found no indications that an accelerant was used but that it appeared the arsonist simply lit the wood on fire. He said the wood was old and would have caught fire more quickly than a piece of new wood.
"Odds are pretty good that it was the same person," Smith said. "To have two fires that close together, that time and that distance."
The state Fire Marshal's Office is working with Charleston firefighters on the investigation.
A reward is being offered for information leading to the arsonists' capture and conviction. Anyone with information can call the arson hotline 1-800-233-FIRE (3473).
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.cr...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4850.