Commonwealth Journal

March 26, 2014

Fatal blaze declared an arson

If caught, culprit could face charges in death of McCreary fireman

by Heather Tomlinson
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —

A McCreary County fire that led to a firefighter’s death from severe burns was caused by arson, according to investigators. 
The August 30, 2013, fire occurred at a vacant home on Water Plant Road in the Stearns community of McCreary County. 
Whitley City Firefighter Lt. Arlie “Pooh” Hill III, 37, was at the nearby home of his brother-in-law and neighbor, Adam Stephens, an-other Whitley City firefighter, when they noticed smoke from a nearby house. The family who had lived there included a young girl. Both men rushed over to see if anyone was trapped.
The family who had lived there were moving out when the fire occurred and no one was in the home. 
As he entered the residence, Hill was caught in a “flashover” — or burst of flame created by heat buildup from the growing fire meeting an influx of oxygen. He was pulled to safety by Stephens, who then began life-saving proce-dures.
Meanwhile, Ken-tucky State Police Post 11 Arson Inves-tigator Detective Brian Lewis arrived on the scene. That night, Lewis began his investigation into the blaze. 
While Stephens suffered burns to his face and arms, Hill had second- and third-degree burns covering more than 90 percent of his body. 
Initially airlifted to the University of Kentucky Medical Center, Hill was later transferred to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center’s burn unit.
Hill’s struggle to survive, which sadly ended a little over two months later on Oct. 27, garnered statewide and national headlines as his family, friends, and fellow firefighters gathered around his bedside. 
After he passed away, firefighters from Cincinnati to McCreary County lined the roads to honor Hill as his body was brought back to McCreary County.
After an eight-month investigation, Lewis has determined the cause of the fire to be arson, according to a press release from KSP Public Information Officer Trooper Lloyd Cochran. 
“At this time Detective Lewis is still following up on leads,” Cochran said. 
Cochran said several charges may follow if investigators make an arrest in the arson case. 
Anyone with any information in reference to the investigation is asked to contact KSP at 606-878-6622. 
Anyone with information on any suspicious fire can call the Arson Hotline at 1-800-27-ARSON (1-800-272-7766) or the number above.