5 firefighters arrested for allegedly setting fires

CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Five firefighters in Cabell County are facing criminal charges for allegedly setting fires.

All five are suspended from the Barboursville Volunteer Fire Department, according to BVFD Chief Chad Ward.

Charles Weybrecht "Chase" Peoples, 20, is charged with burning etc. of other buildings or structures, also known as second-degree arson.

Brett Allen Ray, 20, is charged with first-degree arson.

Glenn Fletcher Harman, 20, is charged with burning etc. of other buildings or structures, also known as second-degree arson.

Travis Michael Bailey, 28, is charged with first-degree arson.

Bailey admitted to setting a fire on Feb.

Ian Hockenberry, 21, is charged with first-degree arson.

The West Virginia State Fire Marshal's Office made the arrests Tuesday. All five were arraigned at the Cabell County Courthouse.

Ward tells WSAZ the fire department was made aware of the investigation in early December. That's when "all involved parties" were suspended, pending the outcome of this investigation.

"The Barboursville Fire Dept. is cooperating fully with the WV State Fire Marshal’s Office and the prosecutor handling the case," said Ward. "We are unable to comment further at this time."

One of the fires happened on Dec. 20, 2017. The Barboursville Volunteer Fire Department responded to a garage apartment fire in the 5300 block of Guyan River Road. The apartment roof was collapsing and "fully engulfed" in fire.

It wasn't until nearly a year later, on Nov. 26, 2018, that one of the firefighters came forward. Hockenberry told investigators that Ray set the fire. He knows this because Hockenberry says he was with Ray at the time.

Ray allegedly got in through a back door. Hockenberry said Ray set the fire so that the pair could then respond to the scene as members of the BVFD. The same day Hockenberry spoke with investigators, Ray confessed to the crime.

Another fire was on Feb. 6, 2018. An abandoned building in the 6300 block of Ohio River Road in Lesage caught fire. The building, also known as the Ash Apple Orchard Stand, was a total loss.

Bailey confessed to the Feb. 6 fire, according to the criminal complaint. He also told investigators that Peoples was with him when he set the fire. Peoples then confessed to the state fire marshal's office that he knew Bailey was going to set the fire and was there when it happened.