Residential fire under investigation by officials

An early Saturday morning fire in Front Royal remains under investigation for what Warren County Fire Chief Richard E. Mabie described as “suspicious circumstances.”

Mabie said the fire damaged a 500 square foot to 700 square foot dwelling at 339 Osage St.

Firefighters dispatched to the scene at 2:05 a.m. arrived to find smoke coming from the roof of the residence.

Mabie said “hoarding conditions” slowed the work of firefighters as they moved through the structure searching for residents.

The building was unoccupied, although dispatchers had initially received conflicting reports that some people were trapped inside.

Mabie estimated the fire caused about $15,000 damage to the building and left it uninhabitable.

Mabie said the fire was extinguished within 30 minutes, but the cause remains undetermined. Mabie said he was not classifying the fire as arson.

“Let’s just say there are some suspicious circumstances surrounding it that requires more investigation,” Mabie said.

Mabie said the hoarding firefighters encountered was the worst they had seen since a fatal fire last year in Front Royal.

“It was pretty bad,” Mabie said. “It was made even worse because it’s a small house. You a put a lot of stuff in there and there wasn’t a lot of room to walk around.”

Mabie said anyone with information about the fire should contact Fire Marshal Gerry Maiatico at 636-3830 or Front Royal police detective David Fogle at 635-2111.

More information on hoarding is available in this pdf:

Mabie said those looking for organizations that can help limit hoarding behavior should contact the Warren County Sheriff’s Office at 635-4128.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or

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