Editor’s note—Some of the details of this story were originally and exclusively reported by the Bluefield Daily Telegraph and were not properly attributed by MetroNews for which we apologize.
IAEGER, W.Va. — A McDowell County volunteer firefighter is in jail and charged with causing the death of a fellow firefighter.
Robert Lee Beckner, 36, of Iaeger, a member of the Iaeger VFD, was charged Thursday with murder and arson. He allegedly set fire to his own home last Saturday morning. Authorities said the fire rekindled Sunday and that’s when Iaeger VFD member Russell Roberson, 42, took in too much smoke when he was trying to keep someone from entering a mobile home beside Beckner’s home that caught on fire during the rekindle. Roberson died on the way to the hospital.
According to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, the criminal complaint filed by investigators Thursday said Beckner has confessed to setting the blaze at 908 West Virginia Avenue.
Roberson, of Grapevine, was a firefighter for 15 years. He’ll be remembered in funeral services Friday.
“After rescuing a local person from his burning home, Russ became ill and passed away during the early morning hours of June 21, 2020 enroute to Welch Community Hospital,” his obituary said.
Beckner was arraigned Thursday on charges of first-degree murder and three counts of first-degree arson, is being held in the Southwestern Regional Jail.