by Kelly L. Holleran
Daily Mail staff
Pat Reed said she was amazed, but not surprised, by the way the people of Raleigh County helped each other after an explosion at the Little General Store killed four people Tuesday. “It’s just remarkable the way the community and all of Raleigh County has come together in this devastating accident,” she said. “It was just unreal the concern of all the people in the area. It’s been a community effort and it’s just typical of the people of this community to come together in this way.”
Reed is president of the Raleigh County Commission and was the boss of Fred Burroughs, 51, of Ghent, one of the men who died in the explosion. “He was just an excellent employee,” she said. “He was always dependable and thorough in his work. We are certainly sorrowed and it will be hard to replace him.”
Burroughs was a full-time Raleigh County Code Inspector, but was also a dedicated volunteer. He was chief of the Ghent Volunteer Fire Department until last May and was a board member on the department at the time of his death. “He had always been involved in community projects,” Reed said.
Reed said the county’s prayers are with the people whom Burroughs left behind.
“We want to extend our sympathy to his family — to his wife, Hazel, and his children, Chris and Lindsay,” she said.
Jeff Treadway, 21, of Beckley, also perished in the blast. He worked for Appalachian Heating and Insulating and was working on a propane tank in the store when it exploded. His family is dealing with the loss of a son and a brother. The community is coping with the loss of a friend. “Jeff was an outstanding young man,” his former Independence High School Principal Bob Meadows said. “He loved hunting and fishing, but yet made time for school and athletic activities.”
Treadway enjoyed sports, Meadows said. He lettered for four years in baseball and played basketball for two years. Treadway graduated from Independence High School in 2003, but still had ties to the school. His father retired last year as vice principal of the school and his mother is still a reading teacher there.
Few students make a lasting impression on their teachers, but Treadway was a person who the school faculty vividly remembers. “He’s one of those students who stand out from the crowd,” Meadows said. In addition to his parents, Treadway leaves behind one brother three years older than him.
Craig Dorsey, 24, of MacArthur, was one of the volunteer firefighters to arrive at the Little General Store only minutes before it exploded. He did not survive. Dorsey had always been involved in firefighting, even when he was in high school. “It was something he just loved to do,” Meadows said. “He died doing what he loved to do.” Dorsey graduated in 2002 from Independence High School.
A lot of the students at Independence High School knew Dorsey and Treadway, and the school’s prayers go to the families, Meadows said. “They were both just fine young men,” he said. Beckley resident Glenn Ray Bennett, 44, also died in Tuesday’s blast. Bennett also was working on the store’s propane tank when it ignited. Family members could not be reached for comment.
As a result of the explosion, three other people are in critical condition and two are in serious condition at Charleston and Huntington hospitals. Investigators determined the cause of the explosion to be accidental, but may never know the cause, a state official said Thursday.
While the Homeland Security’s investigation has ended, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board is still continuing to search for answers. “The accident raises possible issues of local and national significance, and the community rightly expects a better understanding of just what occurred on Tuesday to cause such a devastating loss of life,” said U.S. Chemical Safety Board Chairman Carolyn W. Merritt.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Contact writer Kelly Holleran at [email protected] or 348-4850.