MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Officials with the West Virginia National Guard confirmed the death of a member of the 167th Airlift Wing, based in Martinsburg, who was said to be fatally injured while responding to a structure fire call in the Eastern Panhandle on Sunday.
The state Fire Marshal’s Office announced later Sunday afternoon that the blaze at a barn on Charles Town Road in Berkeley County had been intentionally set. The fire was reported at 1:56 a.m.
Investigators also determined a fire at a separate structure about three miles away in Jefferson County, a half hour earlier, was also an arson fire.
The fires are connected, investigators said.
It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of one of our service members from the @167AW overnight. The Airman was assisting in a mutual aid call for a fire with the 167th Fire Dept. and suffered a fatal injury while on the call. https://t.co/2G91fZpIr8
— WV National Guard (@WVNationalGuard) December 27, 2020
The 167th’s firefighters were called out to the barn fire scene with other local firefighters, including county fire crews and those with the Martinsburg Fire Department.
FIREFIGHTER FATAL 2:
SFMO investigators have connected that 1:56 a.m. fire with a second structure fire that occurred at around 1:36 a.m. also on Charles Town Road in neighboring Jefferson County. The structures were vacant and not in use, and about 3.1 miles apart. pic.twitter.com/90sWXb0UZL
— WVState Fire Marshal (@WVFireMarshal) December 27, 2020
Information from Berkeley County emergency officials, released on Sunday afternoon, indicated four firefighters were taken to Berkeley Medical Center following a “mayday” call.
The name of the Guard member who died was not immediately released.
For Immediate Release. pic.twitter.com/r3KF4usmyL
— Berkeley County Public Safety (@WVBerkeleyCPS) December 27, 2020
Several residents reported hearing some kind of blast around the time of the fire, though that had not been confirmed with emergency officials as of Sunday afternoon.
The state Fire Marshal’s Office said anyone with information about the fires should call the West Virginia Arson Hotline at (800) 233-3473. There is a reward of up to $5,000 for any information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.
The West Virginia State Police was assisting with the investigation.