Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

April 15, 2014

Ex Southwest Virginia firefighter charged with arson

GRUNDY, Va. — A former firefighter in Southwest Virginia has been charged with arson, officials said Tuesday.

 Investigators with the Virginia Department of Forestry charged Shane Rife, 19, of Grundy with four felony counts of woods arson for fires he allegedly started last month in Buchanan County, according to the Virginia Department of Forestry.

Rife is a former member of the Grundy Fire Department. He was charged with starting the 375-acre Airport Mountain fire and the 65-acre Spruce Pine fire, a forestry department press release said. Rife had been a member of the Grundy Fire Department for less than one year.

“The success of this investigation is a credit to VDOF’s law enforcement officers, other law enforcement and fire-fighting cooperators in the area and the local community,” John Miller, director of resource protection for the Virginia Department of Forestry, said.

The forestry department’s investigative team worked with the local Commonwealth’s Attorney to build the case and perform a direct indictment in the two cases.

“Often when people observe and report something out of the ordinary such information can be invaluable in building a criminal case against a suspect,” a VDOF wildland fire investigator said.  “We are indebted to everyone who cooperated in the effort to catch this individual because someone who starts a wildfire puts firefighters and area residents in danger.”

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