Two Maryland Firefighters Arrested at Tunnel Fire

BLUEFIELD — Two out-of-state volunteer firefighters were arrested after they took an emergency vehicle and entered East River Mountain Tunnel during a tractor-trailer blaze.

Sgt. D.W. Miller, commander of the West Virginia State Police Princeton detachment, said Colin Dunn, 30, of Maryland, and Virginia Price, 30, of Maine, were arrested on obstructing charges Friday.

The couple were traveling through the southbound lane of the tunnel Friday afternoon when a tractor-trailer fire was being battled in the northbound lane, Miller said.

The two stopped their vehicle upon reaching the Virginia-side exit, “threw on some gear” and took a county emergency vehicle, Miller said.

“They ran into the tunnel, in their infinite wisdom,” Miller said. “They said they were attempting to help their friends — they are volunteer firemen in Maryland. We explained to them they were not in Maryland, and did not have friends in the tunnel. They had no authority to do that here, basically.”

Miller said the initial report was that the couple stole a fire truck, but later reports indicated it was a county emergency vehicle. He said the two were not charged with theft of the vehicle.

“I am sure in their own mind they thought they were doing the right thing, but in all reality they were not,” Miller said. “They could have put themselves and other people in harm’s way. It could have turned out really bad, but thankfully it didn’t.”

The tractor-trailer fire, which was reported at 3:10 p.m. Friday, ultimately closed both lanes of the tunnel Friday afternoon and evening. The southbound lanes reopened around 10:30 p.m. Friday. Northbound lanes reopened on Saturday.

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