CLIFTON FORGE, Va. – A former Alleghany County first responder died Friday and his wife is in critical condition after their house caught fire.
Barry Rose, 66, was a retired deputy with the Alleghany County Sheriff’s Office and had worked for many area fire and rescue departments.
His wife, Joyce, was taken to the VCU Medical Center in Richmond early Friday morning. People close to the family told 10 News that her condition is still described as critical as of Friday afternoon.
The fire started in the kitchen of the couple’s house, according to Alleghany County Public Safety Director Ryan Muterspaugh. He said their disabilities were a factor in their inability to escape. Neighbors said the two used wheelchairs.
The broken windows in the second story of the couple’s Falcon Ridge Road house in Clifton Forge were one sign of the efforts of the more than 50 emergency personnel who tried to rescue them. Witnesses described a chaotic scene as the couple was trapped inside the house.
Muterspaugh said crews don’t yet know what specifically caused the fire but the investigation is ongoing. Weather prevented a helicopter transport crew from responding.
Many people in the surrounding communities said they’re shocked and saddened by Barry Rose’s death and said he was well-known and well-respected.
“It's going to take a long, long time to get over the loss of Barry Rose,” Alleghany County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Matthew Bowser said.
Bowser worked with Rose.
“Barry was very devoted to his community. He was a dedicated employee of the Sheriff’s Office for many, many years.”
Rose was a D.A.R.E. officer and members of area fire and rescue departments also spoke of his dedication and the impact he left on local first responders.
“It's a tragic loss,” Bowser said. “Our community, being such a tight-knit community, is suffering.”
Rose helped organize an Alleghany County charity bike event that has given hundreds of bikes to area kids. The 22nd annual event is scheduled for May 5.
“His memory is going to live through all of his good deeds in the community,” Bowser said.
Rose’s daughter and son-in-law work for the Clifton Forge Rescue squad, which was one of the many area departments who posted messages of appreciation for Rose on social media Friday.