Man who died in Berkeley County apartment fire identified

March 03, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |
  • Jonathan Daily
Submitted photo

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A man who died Thursday night after his apartment caught on fire east of Martinsburg was identified as Jonathan Daily, Baker Heights Volunteer Fire Department Chief Marty Roberts said Saturday.

Daily, 24, was found in the kitchen of his apartment at 92 Blairton Road shortly after firefighters were dispatched at 5:20 p.m., Roberts said.

While the fire remains under investigation by the state Fire Marshal's Office, Roberts said it appeared that it started on the kitchen stove.

Daily had burns over about 75 percent of his body, Roberts said.

The fire was not visible from outside the apartment, but inside there was "almost zero visibility" from the smoke when firefighters entered the upstairs unit, Roberts said.

Fire damage was contained to the kitchen area, including cabinetry and the ceiling, but smoke had blackened the windows and heat had melted the blinds, according to Roberts and neighbors.

Berkeley County Sheriff Kenneth Lemaster Jr. said Friday that he did not believe investigators had found any evidence of foul play. Daily was the only person in the upstairs apartment, Lemaster said.

Daily was taken to City Hospital in Martinsburg, and an autopsy was to be conducted in Morgantown, W.Va., Berkeley County Medical Examiner Curtis E. Keller said.

Volunteers from Baker Heights Volunteer Fire Department, Bedington Volunteer Fire Department and Veterans Affairs Medical Center fire department along with county emergency officials responded to the fire, Roberts said.

Daily's father, Larry Z. Daily, said Saturday that he last talked with his son Thursday about 3 p.m. while traveling to a conference in Pittsburgh.

During the phone conversation, Daily said his son agreed to pick up his mail while he was out of town.

Larry Daily said fire investigators have been "very cautious" about what they have told the family, but he is reasonably certain his son was unconscious and did not suffer in the fire.

Daily said his son was "very much into physical fitness," and was a brown belt in Kenpo karate. Jonathan also enjoyed cooking and took a scientific approach to researching the benefits of the food he ate, his father said, recalling conversations about natural peanut butter and what free range chicken really meant.

Jonathan's father, a psychology professor at Shepherd University, said his son was a research technician at the U.S. Geological Survey Leetown Science Center.

A graduate of Jefferson High School and George Mason University, Jonathan had studied applied mathematics and biology, and his father said his oldest son had been talking about going to graduate school.

"He took to math like a duck to water," Larry Daily said.  

Daily said Jonathan was caring and compassionate and took time out to be with his younger brother.

"He was a good kid," Larry Daily said. "I'm really fortunate to have been his father."

Services will be Saturday at 11 a.m. at Eackles-Spencer & Norton Funeral Home, Daily said.

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