PIEDMONT - A reported 13 people were left homeless and two people injured by a late-night fire that destroyed most of a city block Thursday in Piedmont.
The only building left with minimal damage, although located on the corner in the center of the structures that burned, was the town's library and Piedmont High School memorabilia room upstairs.
Librarian Paula Boggs, also a Piedmont City Council member, credited the firefighters who covered everything in the library with tarps for saving the books and computers housed there.
One of Boggs' fellow city officials, council member Gary Bradley, was one of the firefighters injured while fighting the blaze. The identity of the other injured firefighter has not been released, but both were reported to have been released from the hospital this morning.
Firefighters from four counties fought the blaze well into the early morning hours. The Mineral County Sheriff's Department was on scene to assist with traffic control, and no vehicular traffic could get in or out of Piedmont's downtown section for hours. The fire also disrupted CSX rail traffic, as the railroad crosses through town right behind the buildings that burned.
The buildings, part of the Mickey Racco estate, were located beside the vacant lot where the former hotel was torn down within the past few years by the city, and just down the street from City Hall and the fire hall.
Residents of the Tri-Towns area have already begun to collect clothing and household items to help those who lost everything in the fire, and donations are being accepted at the Westernport American Legion. Those wishing to help the families are being asked to call Tammy Kady at 301-268-2200 to make sure someone can be at the Legion to accept them.