Arson of Martinsburg-area mobile homes investigated

October 10, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The West Virginia State Fire Marshal's office is investigating the arson Thursday night of four vacant mobile homes and a fifth that was occupied by a family in the Spur Cap Mobile Home Park north of Martinsburg.

No one was injured.

Emergency dispatchers received a call at 9:33 p.m. about a fire at an abandoned mobile home at 30 Concorde St., according to a Berkeley County Sheriff's Department press release.

A second abandoned home at 94 Tamarack St. was discovered on fire two minutes after members of the Bedington Volunteer Fire Department arrived at the first fire in the community, which is about two miles from Williamsport Pike (U.S. 11) off Berkeley Station Road. The second fire prompted the dispatch of the Hedgesville (W.Va.) Volunteer Fire Department to the scene.

At 9:54 p.m., fire officials reported the discovery of a third fire at a home along Connell Street about the same time as they had the second blaze under control, according to the sheriff's department.


A fourth home was reported on fire at 10:11 p.m. at 20 Concorde St., and the fifth fire at 127 Tamarack St. was reported after deputies arrived at 10:18 p.m.

The fifth blaze caused "very minor" damage in the laundry room area and the home still was livable, according to assistant state fire marshal Patrick Barker and the sheriff's department.

The arsonist ignited a pillow and put it in the rear door of the trailer while the residents were watching firefighters put the other fires out, according to the sheriff's department.

Barker declined to say what device was used to burn the vacant homes, which he said were in the process of being removed and sold for scrap.

"We have some leads right now," Barker said. "We're just trying to decipher through them."

A relative of a neighbor of one of the vacant properties said the burned trailer next door already had windows broken out and was in general disrepair.

The woman, who declined to be identified, said her son-in-law was able to keep the siding on their double-wide home from melting by spraying it down with water.

Anyone with information on the arsons may call the state's arson hot line at 800-233-FIRE. Those who give information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible can receive up to a $2,500 reward, Barker said.

-- Matthew Umstead

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