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Four McDowell County firefighters arrested on arson charges

File photo shows an Oct. 31 fire in War Four McDowell firefighters face charges in a series of fires in the county. (War Volunteer Fire Department)

Four McDowell County firefighters have been arrested on arson charges in connection with a series of intentionally set fires in the War area that spanned several months, state fire marshals said.

Cody Patterson, 26, James Stutson, 40, Michael Click, 28, and Brandon Short, 22, have all been charged by West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office investigators with first-degree arson and conspiracy, according to a news release from the Fire Marshal’s Office.

Investigators were called to a vacant apartment fire in War on Oct. 31, 2018, where it was determined that the fire was incendiary in cause. The fire had started in the upstairs area of the apartment building and had then spread to five other buildings.

Investigators then determined that three other fires in the War area had been intentionally set in the previous months, and that they were all connected to the same individuals, the fire marshal's office said.

Fire marshals said the incidents occurred::

* Aug. 12, a fire was set to a vacant two-story building. It is believed that all four of the individuals charged participated in setting fire to this building.

* Sept. 2, a second fire was set at a vacant home; Michael Click is charged with this fire.

* Oct. 29, the vacant two-story building from Aug. 12 was again set on fire; Cody Patterson and Click are charged with this fire.

* Oct. 31, the final fire set was the apartment fire in War, which started the investigation; Click is charged in this fire.

All four were arrested Thursday and will be brought before a McDowell County magistrate. More charges are pending. The investigation and arrests were made by Assistant State Fire Marshal L.T. Hamrick.

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