Area man dies of burns

A Bentonville man died Saturday of burns authorities say he received after accidentally lighting his clothes and hair on fire while attempting to light a cigarette.

Warren County Fire Chief Richard E. Mabie identified the victim as Bruce Roberts, 53, of 213 Marian Lane.

Mabie said in a written statement that fire and EMS crews arrived at the scene in the early morning hours Friday to find Roberts suffering from second- and third-degree burns to more than 50 percent of his body.

Mabie said Roberts was treated for his injuries and taken by medevac helicopter to the University of Virginia Medical Center.

Roberts died Saturday at the hospital, Mabie said.

Mabie said investigators from the Warren County Fire Marshal’s Office and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office “determined that Mr. Roberts (accidentally) lit his hair on fire while attempting to light a cigarette.”

Mabie said authorities also concluded that “the victim was impaired by alcohol and his prescribed medications at the time of the incident.”

Fire Capt. Raymond Cross said in an interview that firefighters received an emergency call at 2:02 a.m. from people who lived with Roberts.

“He was in his bed and smokes in bed regularly, and that’s pretty much what he did,” Cross said of Roberts.

Cross said fire injuries and fatalities linked to smoking-related accidents are “not unusual at all.”

Anyone with additional information about the fire is asked to call Cross at 636-3830.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or