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One person found dead in Martinsburg house fire

September 14, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | mattthew.umstead@herald-mail.com
  • The scene of the fatal house fire at 316 Oak St. in Martinsburg, W.Va.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A 65-year-old man was found dead after his Oak Street home in Martinsburg was engulfed in flames Thursday night, according to fire officials, police and family members.

The victim was identified as Dwight L. Ludwig by his older brother, Ed Ludwig.

Martinsburg Police Capt. Greg Hoover said the body was burned in the blaze at 316 Oak St., and an autopsy was arranged with the state medical examiner’s office to positively identify the man and to determine cause and manner of death.

Investigators have no reason to believe the victim was anyone but the occupant of the home, Hoover said.

Martinsburg Police Detective S.F. Doyle said there was nothing suspicious about the fire.

Ludwig lived alone in the Cape Cod-style red brick home and had live there for more than 30 years, according to his brother.

His body was found on the first floor of the home where the fire originated, Hoover said.

Neighbor Gary Bailey said he was lying on the couch Thursday night when his wife, who was on the phone, told him she heard a popping sound and then saw that the home next door was on fire.

Bailey said he heard gunfire as he approached the house and first thought someone was shooting at the residence before he realized the sound of ammunition exploding was coming from inside and echoing.

“It was going off — pow, pow, pow!” Bailey said. “I got up to the steps and (the heat) was so intense I couldn’t go no further.”

The fire appeared to travel from left to right in the house before firefighters responded to put out the blaze, Bailey said.

“They came and did a great job,” Bailey said.

Ludwig said his brother enjoyed trapshooting and had an assortment of firearms, including air rifles in the home. Police confirmed the sound of shots fired was ammunition exploding in the house across from Oak Street Park.

Hoover said the body was found after the fire was out. No firefighters were injured and no other property was damaged by the fire, according to Hoover.

Ludwig said his brother retired last year from the Internal Revenue Service, where he worked with computers.

The youngest of four brothers, Ludwig had some medical ailments recently and was limited in doing some of the activities he enjoyed, including shooting and riding motorcycles.

The brothers often went to watch motorcycle races together, Ludwig said.

“We did it every summer; just camp out and have a good time,” Ludwig said.

Ludwig said his brother was well-liked and noted that several neighbors and former co-workers stopped by the home Friday.

Bailey said Ludwig was friendly and waved at him from the front porch when he passed by, but otherwise stayed to himself and seemed to have few visitors in the 18 months Bailey lived next door.

“He didn’t bother anybody. It’s just a shame,” Bailey said. “You never think (something like this is) going to happen next door to you.”

Hoover said firefighters arrived at the home four minutes after receiving the fire call at the two-story structure.

There was fire on both the first and second floors when firefighters arrived, he said.

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