Greenbrier County Sheriff provides update on fatal fire, talks about emotional toll

West Virginia News

WILLIAMSBURG, WV (WVNS) – A grim discovery in a deadly fire investigation in Greenbrier County. The investigation began on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020, following a report of a house fire. It was not until hours later it was learned that fire was deadly.

First responders are trained to be prepared for anything, but there are some calls they will never get used to. That includes responding to what was believed to just be a house fire on Flynn’s Creek Road near Williamsburg.

When Greenbrier County Sheriff Bruce Sloan was asked what his first thought was when he arrived on the scene, he said the whole thing was just tragic.

“I don’t even know that tragic is even inadequate to describe something that happened in this magnitude. It’s bad anytime, but especially during Christmas time when you are talking about small children,” said Sloan.

Emergency personnel worked around the clock to try and piece together exactly what happened. First responders from nine different fire departments were on scene until 5 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. Sloan said most of the firefighters were volunteers.

“These firefighters have small children of their own, so they are digging through the rubble trying to find the remains of small children. And obviously, it crosses their mind about their own children at home,” said Sloan.

Sloan said he was one of the first people to speak with the family. He said even after decades of working for state police and sheriff’s department, that part of the job never gets easier.

“What do you say to families in those circumstances? You can’t change it, you can’t alter what happened, and it’s just really tough,” said Sloan.

After getting very little sleep, Jason Baltic, a deputy state fire marshal, said first responders went back to the home Wednesday morning in the hopes of finding the last potential victim.

“We won’t stop, if we can’t find the presumed victim inside the fire, we will be here until we find him outside of the fire,” Baltic explained.

After hours of searching, the last victim was found around 4 p.m. on Wednesday, December 9, 2020.

Sloan said all of the victims will be transported to the West Virginia State Medical Examiner’s Office. He also confirmed investigators developed a timeline and circumstances leading up to the deaths.

Sloan said they are considering this an open investigation.

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