4 firefighters arrested for starting fires 'for the excitement of it'

Officials said four McDowell County firefighters started fires because they "were all bored and wanted a call to go on"

By Greg Jordan
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

WELCH, W. Va. — Four McDowell County firefighters arrested Thursday on charges of intentionally setting fires in the War area allegedly started the blazes just for some excitement, an assistant fire marshal said.

Cody Patterson, 26, of War; James Stutson, 40, of War; Michael Click, 28, of War; and Brandon Short, 22, of Davy have all been charged by the West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office with first-degree arson and conspiracy, according to a press release from the agency.

The suspects were setting fires “for the excitement of it,” the investigating officer, Assistant State Fire Marshal L.T. Hamrick, said after the suspects were arraigned in Welch. He stated that the burned structures were “unoccupied and uninsured.”

“The guys were all bored and wanted a call to go on,” he stated.

The case began after investigators were called to a vacant apartment fire in War on Oct. 31, 2018, where it was determined that the fire was incendiary in cause, according to the Fire Marshal’s press release.

“The fire had started in the upstairs area of the apartment building and had then spread to five other buildings,” the release continued. “Investigators then determined that three other fires in the War area had been intentionally set in the previous months, and that they were all connected to the same individuals.

According to the Fire Marshal’s office and criminal complaints filed at the McDowell County Magistrate Clerk’s Office, the suspicious fires and charges include:

  • An Aug. 12 fire set to a vacant two-story structure, the Moyer Martin Building. “It is believed that all four of the individuals charged participated in setting fire to this building,” the Fire Marshal’s release stated.
  • A Sept. 2 fire of a vacant home; Michael Click is charged with this fire.
  • An Oct. 29 fire of the vacant two-story structure, the Moye Martin Building, from the Aug. 12 incident, which was again set on fire; Cody Patterson and Click are charged with this fire. Click entered a first-floor apartment where he used a road flare to ignite a fire inside of a basket. Click and Patterson then returned to War “where they waited on the fire department to be paged out,” according to the criminal complaint.

Copyright 2019 Bluefield Daily Telegraph

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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