MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A former volunteer firefighter accused of starting a large barn fire in April in which another volunteer firefighter was injured pleaded not guilty to first-degree arson and other charges Monday in Berkeley County Circuit Court.
James L. Blackford III, 30, of 167 Laing Drive in Martinsburg, was indicted last month on felony counts of first-degree arson, setting fire to lands and causing serious injury during an arson-related crime.
His trial was scheduled for March 9 by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gray Silver III.
Silver also granted Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely's request that Blackford be ordered to report to the Eastern Panhandle Day Report Center for random drug testing at his own expense as a condition of his $200,000 bond.
Blackford told investigators the April 7 fire started after he and another person ignited rubbing alcohol behind the barn at 1495 Williamsport Pike to heat crack cocaine in a smoking device made from a plastic bottle, according to a complaint filed by Assistant State Fire Marshal Patrick J. Barker.