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Buckhannon man arrested for first-degree arson after allegedly setting camper on fire

TALLMANSVILLE – An Upshur County man was arrested for arson Monday night after he allegedly set a pull-behind camper on fire.

Brandon Blaine Kelley, 41, of Buckhannon, was arrested for first-degree arson, a felony, after he reportedly told police he intentionally set a camper on fire Monday evening just after 6 p.m. The camper was located on the Ivy Road side of Little Sand Run Road across from the Sandstone Holler Road.

According to the criminal complaint in the Upshur County Magistrate Clerk’s Office filed by Upshur County Sheriff’s Deputy William Chidester, several fire departments, the West Virginia State Police and Chidester responded to a call from the Upshur County E911 Communication Center stating “someone had set fire to a camper” at about 6:15 p.m. Monday.

“The caller also stated that she believed [the person] was under the influence of some kind of substance,” Chidester wrote in the police report. When law enforcement and fire units arrived on scene, they discovered that the camper “had been burned almost completely, a building was partially burned and the ground around the camper was also burned,” the file says.

Washington District Volunteer Fire Company Chief Kevin Huffman on Tuesday said that when the department arrived on scene, the camper – which he described as one that could be hooked to the back of a truck – was fully engulfed in flames.

“Nobody was inside, thankfully, and most of the walls were down when we got there,” Huffman said. “We basically put out the fire to keep it from spreading to nearby land, with how dry it’s been.”

The police report said that when emergency responders arrived, Kelley was sitting in the back of a nearby SUV speaking to another individual who stated he was “attempting to keep [Kelley] calm.” The file goes on to say that several witnesses on scene told police they had reportedly seen Kelley “pouring what appeared to be gasoline on the camper and setting fire to it.”

Kelley subsequently admitted to police that he had burned the camper but said its owner “didn’t care because he would pay for the camper and all of the contents,” the file alleges. Kelley also reportedly told police he had used methamphetamine several days prior, and he believed “DEA agents were hiding in the trees and aiming at him with a ‘night scope’” and had kidnapped him and held him hostage the day prior, the report says.

Capt. Brian Elmore with the Buckhannon Fire Department, which also responded, said the camper was a total loss.

“No one was inside fortunately,” Elmore said. “It was a pull-behind camper.”

According to West Virginia Code, first-degree arson involves someone “willfully and maliciously” setting fire to a dwelling or outbuilding, regardless of whether the property is occupied, unoccupied or vacant.

Magistrate Alan Suder set bail at $10,000 cash only. The penalty for a conviction of first-degree arson is imprisonment in the state penitentiary for a definite term of not less than two nor more than 20 years.

Huffman said the case has been turned over to the West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office for investigation, adding that fire departments had cleared the scene by about 7:30 p.m.

Ellamore Volunteer Fire Department was paged out, but later canceled after Washington District and Buckhannon units got the flames under control.

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