PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Update: 4:30 p.m. Friday
Officials believe the fire that sent one Pike County firefighter to the hospital Thursday could have been arson.
Kimper Fire Department Chief Troy Hunt says one of his firefighters noticed smoke coming from a McCoy Elkhorn Coal office building that sat vacant in the Long Fork community.
Cory Stevenson, the firefighter who noticed the smoke, rushed to the door to make sure no one was inside. At that point, he was hit by flames. Those flames gave him first, second, and third-degree burns.
Stevenson was taken to the hospital as the department worked to get the fire out.
Once the firefighters were able to get inside the building, they saw that the fire originated in the electrical room. But they say the building’s electricity has been disconnected for two months.
The firefighters found a butane lighter next to the door of the electric room, as well as a burning cloth placed in one of the corners of a hallway.
"Red flags," Hunt said. "Stuff that pretty much says somebody set this fire."
They say one of the windows was broken in from the outside, and a door that can only be opened from the inside was left open, which they believe means that someone broke into the building.
Hunt says his firefighters understand that they are always at risk of getting burned. But he says if someone “senselessly” set a fire that put his men in harm’s way, it burns him in a different way.
"You know, it hurts me because we've got ignorant people like that," Hunt said. "We put our lives on the line all day every day."
But Hunt said it could have been worse. Stevenson was sent home Friday after his burns were treated. He is expected to make a full recovery.
"I was talking to him on the phone and he's in good spirits. He's tough," Hunt said. "Thank the man upstairs."
Hunt said investigators will be on the scene next week, but all signs point to arson.
Update: 10:30 a.m. Friday
Cory Stevenson was released from the hospital Friday morning, according to the Pike County Firefighters Association.
Stevenson suffered second and third-degree burns to his right hand and "pretty much first degree on his left (hand) and his face."
After the fire, local fire departments and community members shared posts, encouraging people to pray for Stevenson. Hurricane Creek Fire Department said, "Regardless of what department we are on, we are all one."
Officials with the association say they were glad to see the support and even more excited to see Stevenson leave the hospital. They said, "prayers do work."
Original Story: Thursday
The Pike County Firefighters Association said a firefighter was burned Thursday night while at a structure fire.
A Facebook post by the firefighters association said firefighter Cory Stevenson was working with the Kimper Fire Department when he was burned by a flashover.
Stevenson was taken to Pikeville Medical Center but he will be transferred to Cabell Huntington Hospital in West Virginia.
The Facebook post stated Stevenson was talking at the scene.
We will update this as we learn more.