‘On both sides’
Alvon Ryder, of Buckeye, has worked as a dispatcher for the Pocahontas County 911 Center for eight years. On Monday, November 19, Ryder was at work when a call came in to report a house fire.
Although the center gets such calls from time to time, what set this one apart from all the others was the fact that it was Ryder’s house that was involved.
“It can happen on both sides,” Ryder said this week. “This time I was on both sides.”
There is a distance of only about six miles from Ryder’s workplace to his home, but that distance was hard to travel that day.
“When I got to Ellen Galford’s [Hannah Insurance Agency on Beard Heights] I could see the smoke and I knew it was bad,” he said.
And it was bad.
Ryder’s home was completely engulfed, and though he is still waiting for an insurance adjustor to evaluate the scene, it appears that the home is a total loss.
“I realized that I had nothing but the clothes I was wearing,” Ryder said as he talked about that day. “I didn’t even have a toothbrush.”
Ryder is now staying with his brother, Charlie Wilfong, and family until he can rebuild.
“The community has been very nice to me,” he said. “A woman from Covington, the people I work with, former fellow workers – they have been very, very kind.”
One act of kindness on that day brings tears to Ryder’s eyes.
“The day of the fire, my nephew, Hunter [Wilfong] came up to me and said, ‘you can come and stay with us,’” Ryder recalls. “He has always been my buddy. He has gotten me through a lot.”
Ryder was amazed at the response of the area’s fire and rescue squads.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “The first day of hunting season, and there must have been thirty people who came to help. I looked around and saw a fire truck, then another, and another, and then an ambulance arrived.”
It was only later that it was learned that in the midst of all that help was an act not so helpful to the situation.
According to Senior Trooper J. W. Gilkerson, of the Marlinton Detachment of the West Virginia State Police, an arrest was made on Monday, November 26, that was tied to the event.
Chris McClure, of Hillsboro, a member of the Hillsboro Fire Department, was arrested on a charge of petit larceny which took place at the scene of the fire.
McClure has been suspended from the department pending the investigation.
Ryder continues to move forward to put his home and his life back together.
Jaynell Graham may be contacted at email@example.com