UPDATE: Firefighter dies in the line of duty in McDowell County, arrest made

UPDATE: IAEGER, WV (WOAY) – A man has been arrested and charged in connection to a house fire that killed a McDowell County firefighter.

West Virginia State Police tell WOAY that Robert Beckner, 36, of Iaeger, has been charged with three counts of first-degree arson, and one count of first-degree murder.

Buckner confessed to the arson via an audio statement.

The Fire Marshal’s Office in McDowell County made the arrest.


IAEGER, WV (WOAY) – A Iaeger Volunteer Firefighter has died after battling a house fire.

According to Iaeger Police Chief, Chris Riffe, Russ Robertson was fighting a three-structure blaze this morning when the heat became unbearable. The firefighter saw a homeowner reenter the residence that was fully involved. He then pulled him from the structure and kept him from returning.

After he fell ill shortly afterwards, EMS transported Robertson for medical attention. He passed away soon after.

A GoFundMe Page has been set up to assist in funeral expenses.

Stay with WOAY for more updates on this developing story.


MCDOWELL COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – The Oceana Fire Department posted a Facebook update today, saying a firefighter with the Iaeger Fire Department died in the line of duty.

According to the Facebook post, the firefighter entered a burning house where he found a man trapped inside. He attempted to save the person’s life but tragically lost his own in the process.

This is a developing story, so details are limited. Stay with WOAY for any updates.

Kassie Simmons
Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at ksimmons@woay.com.