MARTINSBURG, WV (WDVM) – Officials were called to the scene of a fire in the 200 block of North Church in Martinsburg early Monday morning.
The fire tore through a duplex and left damage to neighboring homes.
According to the Martinsburg City Police Department, a 12-year-old boy with Autism died as a result of injuries he sustained in the fire.
The police department said in a release on Monday that family members attempted to get the boy out of the house, but where unable to. When firefighters arrived they were able to remove the boy from the home.
He was taken to Berkeley County Medical Center where he later died.
Neighbors and area residents were at the scene later in the day on Monday.
One person, Brandon Smith, said he lived in the other side of the duplex that was also destroyed in the fire.
“I heard a lot of ruckus. Everything was popping and blowing up,” Smith said. “It sounded like my neighbors were fighting. So, I woke up my brother and said, ‘Come on, my neighbors are getting in a fight, we got to go next door.’ When I went downstairs, the whole front of my house and my couch was on fire,” Smith said.
Smith said that the boy who died was his neighbor and that the young man’s name was Jeffrey.
“He can’t make up his own decisions. So when everyone was telling him to go up the steps, he would go down the steps and just didn’t make it,” Smith said.
Shortly after noon on Monday, investigators were still at the scene and hanging up signs that offered a reward for any information about the fire, which investigators were calling incendiary – meaning they believe it was intentionally set.
Anyone with information is asked to call the West Virginia Arson Hotline at 1-800-233-FIRE.