The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

February 16, 2013

Bluefield police cruiser set on fire and destroyed

By Bill Archer
For The Register-Herald

BLUEFIELD — Officers of the Bluefield Police Department are “actively investigating” the burning of a police cruiser that was parked on the municipal building’s parking lot at 100 Rogers St. The fire occurred “between 5:30 and 6 a.m.,” according to Sgt. G.W. Lightfoot of the police department.

“The vehicle was fully engulfed in flames when we responded this morning,” Lightfoot said. “The fire was caused by an unknown accelerant. At this time, we are still working the investigation,”

Patrolman J.W. Murray Jr., of the Bluefield Police Department, was first on the scene and attempted unsuccessfully to put the fire out with a fire extinguisher. According to Lightfoot, an accelerant — perhaps the same as was used on the cruiser — was used to ignite the fire from a distance.

“The fire trail that led to the cruiser was about 80 feet long,” Lightfoot said. He said that the damaged vehicle is a Ford Crown Victoria that was being used as a backup vehicle.

The Bluefield Fire Department responded to the report of the blaze at 5:41 a.m., and remained on the scene until 7:02 a.m., according to Chief Jeff Warden. “Captain Glen Sutphin was the shift commander on the scene.”

Warden said that Sutphin reported that the fire “is believed to be suspicious,” and added that it will be referred to the State Fire Marshal’s office for investigation.

“If anyone has information that will help us in the investigation of this crime, they can contact us here at the police department,” Lightfoot said. The number is 304-327-6101.

— Bill Archer is a writer for The Bluefield Daily Telegraph