CLAYSVILLE (KDKA) – A church and a personal care home in Washington County were destroyed in an early Friday morning fire.

According to officials, the fire broke out around midnight on Elm Street in Claysville.

The fire raged for hours inside the unused church. The bigger threat was the personal care home attached to the church.

Inside the Bethel Personal Care Home, 16 veteran’s lives were at risk

“I looked out of a window and it was just blazing orange and smoke everywhere. And I ran outside the building and realized the building I was in was burning down,” Dustin Hercules said.

Hercules was working alone at the facility and knew he needed to act fast to get all the residents out.

“We do fire drills every month. So, everyone pretty much knew what to do. You think you’re prepared until the thing actually happens. I just did everything I could and got everyone out as fast as I could,” Hercules said.

About 50 feet away is another rest home called Mama’s House. All 18 residents were also evacuated and no one was hurt.

Residents of both facilities were taken to the Claysville Volunteer Fire Department.

“Very lucky. The staff that was working [did] a fantastic job. Prior to our arrival, all the patients were evacuated,” Claysville Volunteer Fire Department Chief David Hilderbrand said.

The fire was so intense that several homes were hit with the heat and flying embers.

“Engulfed in flames, the heat was overwhelming, melted all the siding off everyone’s houses and moved extremely fast,” Justin Welsh said.

The church was reduced to rubble and fire marshals will have to dig to find the cause.

While it’s still standing, the Bethel Personal Care Home may not reopen.

However, residents at Mama’s House were being allowed back in Friday morning.


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