In what can only be called a blatant act of vandalism, a campfire built and left unattended on the load-out tracks of the McHenry Coal Company tipple at Irma, West Virginia has burned out of control and completely destroyed the mine structure. The building burned throughout the evening of July 19th and by the next morning, nothing was left. The photo below shows the former location of the mine after the company removed all of the debris from the fire.
The mine had been loading six to eight cars of coal per day and its loss will have a significant impact on McHenry Coal Company. In a statement issued by the company, officials said they are uncertain whether or not the structure will be replaced. The mine is located at the end of the Sand Fork Branch of the Chesapeake, Wheeling & Erie Railroad.
Local authorities are searching for the perpetrators and are confident they will be apprehended. Numerous leads have been received and more are expected in the coming days. The photo below was taken on the afternoon before the fire by local railfans who subsequently gave it to the local sheriff's department. There apparently was nothing amiss when this photo was taken.
An anonymous individual sent the photo below to the sheriff's office and it appears to show the perpetrator and the campfire. "This kind of information is extremely important in our search for the vandals, and we're confident they will be apprehended and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
The sheriff's office has said that Smokey Doll is a person of interest in this case and they expect to apprehend him for questioning today. He was reportedly in the area at the time of fire and is known to have been associated with numerous other questionable fires in the past. Said an official of the CWE "Smokey would be better served looking for fires on his own property rather than roaming around this neck of the woods." The official was referring to the mysterious fire along the Forest Park Southern that has been burning for almost a month now.