Berkeley County man dies after trying to rescue wife, pets; Second man critically injured in Valentine’s Day fires

West Virginia

BERKELEY COUNTY, W.Va. (WDVM) — Two Valentine’s Day fires in Berkeley County resulted in the death of one man and sent another man to a D.C. burn unit in critical condition, according to the Office of the State Fire Marshal.  

A 64-year-old man died after an early Sunday morning fire at 6543 Winchester Ave. in Inwood after initially escaping the fire and then going back into the house to rescue his wife and pets, officials say. When he left the house the second time, he collapsed.  

The man, who remains unidentified, died of injuries sustained in the fire at the Berkeley County Medical Center.  

Officials say there were no working smoke alarms in the home. The fire was ruled accidental by Fire Marshal’s Office investigators. 

Officials say the fire resulted from “the hazardous charging of lithium batteries.” 

“They were placed on top of a hot water heater, which produces heat when in use, and the occupants had showered prior to the fire,” said Assistant Fire Marshal George Harms.  

“They were also plugged into a two-prong outlet, which lack the third grounding prong in modern outlets. Grounding is what safely transfers electricity in the event of an unstable current,” Harms said. “A lack of grounding increases the chance of electrical shock or fire during short circuits, ground faults, and electrical overloads.” 

The second fire at a home at 1622 Gerrardstown Rd. in Gerrardstown was the result of carelessly discarded smoking materials, officials said. A man was rescued by a firefighter from the second floor of the house and was transported to the Med Star Burn Unit in D.C., where he remains in critical condition.  

South Berkeley Volunteer Fire Department firefighter Tommy Presley rescued the man, officials said.  

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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