HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Investigators on Monday found the body of a ninth victim in the charred debris left from a fire that destroyed a five-story apartment building, authorities said.
With the discovery of the man's remains, all of the building's residents were accounted for in the city's worst fire in nearly 50 years, authorities said.
Officials said it could take days to identify the cause of the fire, which was reported about 11 p.m. Saturday. Officials said it began in a second-floor unit, shooting flames and smoke up utility access channels to the upper floors. Twenty-four people were rescued, Fire Chief Greg Fuller said.
Two people remained in serious condition Monday and a third was released, hospital spokeswoman Kathy Cosco said.
The dead include a 7-year-old boy and his mother, three siblings ages 14, 17 and 19, and a 68-year-old woman.
"There's nothing more devastating. It's just an unbelievable experience," Gov. Joe Manchin said.
"West Virginia's not that large. We are family and it affects every one of us," he said.
The circa-1924 building did not have a sprinkler system. While sprinklers are not required under state law, smoke alarms are, and investigators were checking whether the building was in compliance. Several smoke alarms were found, Fuller said.
Alex Vence, who manages the building for owner Woodlark Enterprises Inc., said Monday there were smoke detectors in every apartment and a recent inspection by fire officials found no violations.
"We make sure the smoke detectors are in the rooms but it's not up to us to make sure they're working," Vence said.
Woodlark Enterprises, based in White Plains, N.Y., did not return a telephone message.
The building housed city residents as wells as students from Marshall University.
The university said one victim was a student. Seven students were relocated to the university's residence halls and others were staying with friends or family. The American Red Cross said it was helping 26 households affected by the fire.