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Ex-Barboursville firefighters accused of arson

February 6, 2019

HUNTINGTON — Several former Barboursville volunteer firefighters have been charged with arson after a two-year investigation conducted by the West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Brett Ray, 20; Travis Bailey, 28; Ian Hockenberry, 21; Glenn Harman, 20; and Chase Peoples, 20, were all charged Tuesday.

Bailey, Hockenberry and Ray are charged with first-degree arson, which carries a sentence of two to 20 years. Harman and Peoples were charged with second-degree arson, which has a punishment of one to 10 years.

The West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office stated all five had been terminated from their positions prior to charges being filed, and more charges are pending. The men have been released on bond.

Chad Ward, chief of the Barboursville Volunteer Fire Department, said the fire department was made aware of the ongoing investigation in early December, at which point the involved parties were suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. Ward said the fire department is cooperating fully with the State Fire Marshal’s Office in the investigation and was unable to present further comment at this time.

According to the criminal complaints filed in Cabell County Magistrate Court, investigators received confessions from the suspects regarding several fires that had occurred in 2017 and 2018. The confessions are reported as being submitted Nov. 26 and 29,2018.

The complaints list four fires that occurred in Barboursville and Lesage between April 2017 and February 2018.

The complaints state Hockenberry confessed to unlawfully entering a dwelling April 7, 2017, and setting fire to a single-story wood frame dwelling in the 5300 block of Guyan River Road that was fully engulfed by the time the Barboursville VFD arrived at the scene. Hockenberry also confessed to being with Ray when fire was set to a garage apartment in the 5300 block of Guyan River Road on Dec. 20, 2017. The structure was fully engulfed with reported collapse when Barboursville VFD arrived, and the remains of a vehicle were found in the rubble.

Ray told investigators he and Hockenberry entered the garage apartment and set the structure on fire using a flare.

The complaints state Bailey, Peoples and Harman confessed to being present when fire was set to an abandoned building formerly known as the Ash Apple Orchard Stand in the 6300 block of Ohio River Road in Lesage on Feb. 6, 2018. The building was a total loss as a result of the fire, according to the complaint.

Bailey also confessed to setting fire to a residential structure in the 6300 block of East Pea Ridge Road on Feb. 18, 2018, using a flare. The dwelling was fully engulfed by the time Barboursville VFD arrived, the complaint states.

According to the West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office, the group has been investigated for about two years.

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