UPDATE: Victim of fatal fire identified

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FAIRMONT, W.Va. (WDTV) -- UPDATE 3/20/19 3:00PM
The victim in a fatal fire--believed to be an arson--has been identified as Cheryl Willis.

According to the Fairmont Police Department, Willis passed away at UPMC Mercy Hospital on Friday after the fire at an apartment complex at 517 Gaston Avenue.

The fire is believed to have been set intentionally and Fairmont Police and the West Virginia State Fire Marshal's Office are investigating. A person of interest is in custody on another charge.

Evidence has been sent to the West Virginia State Police Crime Lab for testing.

UPDATE 3/18/19 9:00 PM
Fairmont Police said a person of interest in the arson investigation was booked on a parole violation. They still are asking for the public's help finding the clothing items they say he ditched, presumably on the city's West Side in the Virginia Avenue or Gaston Avenue areas.

"If they see those laying, especially with that plaid shirt laying in the same area, we'd be very interested in collecting those," Sgt. Adrian Hayhurst said.

Hayhurst couldn't go into detail about why police are searching for the clothing items. He did say the arrest was made around 50 minutes after the initial call and the suspect knew the victim.

"We know that there is a relationship," Hayhurst said. "We're unsure the type of relationship. We're not sure if they were just friends or something else."

Melissa VanFossen lives in the apartment complex that caught fire last Friday on Gaston Avenue in Fairmont. She said she was the first to call 911.

"If I didn't notice, it probably would have burned down," she said. "It scared me a little bit."

Another neighbor we spoke to who declined to go on camera said the victim lived alone and mostly kept to herself. He said he hopes justice is served for her and her family.

UPDATE 3/18/19 12:45PM
One person is dead and another in custody after a fire at an apartment building in Fairmont.

Officials say one person died in the fire at the apartments on Gaston Avenue. Their identity has not been released at this time.

The fire was determined to be an arson, and Fairmont Police say a suspect was identified and taken into custody. However, they are searching for the shirt, jacket, and shoes the suspect was wearing during the crime.

You can view the clothing items being worn by the suspect (whose identity has not yet been released) in the pictures above, that were captured by surveillance cameras in the West Fairmont area.

If you have any information, you are asked to call the Fairmont Police Department Detective Division at 304-366-2217.

ORIGINAL STORY 3/15/19 9:51 AM
Fire crews responded to the scene of an apartment fire in Marion County on Friday morning.

According to 911 dispatch, the fire started just before 8:10 a.m. in Fairmont at the apartment building located on 500 Gaston Avenue.

Crews from Fairmont Fire Department and the West Virginia State Fire Marshal's Office responded to the scene.

The fire has been extinguished, however residents of the apartment building have been evacuated at this time.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.


Images of clothing and shoes being sought by investigators.