Firefighter Battled Blaze He Allegedly Set

Ray Boyd Kerns charged with felony arson, destruction of property in Woodstock, Va.
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2022 8:30 AM CDT
Firefighter Battled Blaze He Allegedly Set
Ray Boyd Kerns   (Woodstock Police Department)

(Newser) – A volunteer firefighter who helped put out a blaze in Woodstock, Va., on Friday is also the person who set it, authorities say. A surveillance camera spotted Ray Boyd Kerns of the Woodstock Fire Department outside an abandoned multi-story, 22,000-square-foot building 30 minutes before a fire was reported by a passersby around 10pm Friday, Shenandoah County Assistant Fire Marshal Joe Loving tells the Northern Virginia Daily. The 36-year-old then returned to the site as a member of the first firefighting crew to arrive, Loving said. Once identified as a suspect—due in part to "very distinct" clothing on the footage—he "volunteered" to speak to police, then "confessed," Loving said, per the Daily and WHSV.

He was arrested around 6am Saturday. Held without bond, he’s charged with felony arson and destruction of property. "The next step in the investigation will be to determine if there’s any other parties involved, if he acted alone, if there are other incidents that are unsolved related," Loving said. The abandoned building is owned by Lena Francis Keegan, who's been missing for more than two years, though authorities reportedly do not believe the cases are linked. "I know that officers that had been in the building working the other case said it was pretty packed full of stuff," Loving said. Keegan's daughter, Elizabeth Keegan, faces charges after allegedly writing checks from her mother's account and forging a power of attorney document used in an attempt to sell her mother's property, per WHSV. (Read more arson stories.)

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