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Fatality Reported In Clendenin After Brush Fire Spreads

Reported: Mar. 11, 2014 3:51 PM EDT
Updated: Mar. 11, 2014 11:18 PM EDT
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CLENDENIN, W.Va. – (Stefano DiPietrantonio) - Dry brush, warm weather and a runaway brush fire proved to be a deadly combination for a Clendenin man.

"It can outrun you very quickly," said Brad Hartley, who is the Assistant State Fire Marshall. "Do you believe, initially, this was a case of someone trying to fight a fire and it got the better of him?," we asked. "And that's a good possibility. Obviously, we've got some more investigating to do."

The man's family reached out to us and identified him as 66-year-old Donald Shamblin. They admit, they have no idea what he was doing when the fire started, but believe he may have had a heart attack trying to fight it himself.

The fire started around 3:30 Tuesday afternoon, about a mile up a narrow private road, Hayes Farm Lane. There are no fire hydrants or a water source up the hill, so firefighters from Clendenin, Pinch, Frame and the WV Forestry Division had to truck it all in.

"The structure was still partially involved in the fire," said Hartley. "The fire department was having some problems with water, they were shuttling some water."

The ground was scorched and the fire burned a large outbuilding.

"The one end was already consumed in the fire,” said Hartley. “The victim was located outside of the structure in the wood line."

"First -in crews found the individual down over the hill, behind the building, and he was already deceased," said Chief Kevin Clendenin of the Clendenin Fire Department.

Crews were still putting out hot spots from the brush fire, even late in the day.

"We’ve gotten so much rain and so much snow, I'm kind of surprised to hear you utter the words brush fire,” we said to Hartley. “Well, they were up here fighting this fire, and a second brush fire come in!," he said.

The top layer of brush dries out easily and when you get a pretty day, Hartley said, watch out!

"You get some wind blowing and it dries 'em out right real quick,” he said. “And it doesn't take much of anything to get a brush fire going."



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