Man charged with arson after a fire at a historic Rockbridge County home

No one was hurt in the Sunday fire at Echols Farm

A piece of history went up in flames.

ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, Va. – A 36-year-old man faces multiple charges after authorities say he set the fire that destroyed a historic Glasgow home on Sunday.

The fire happened at Echols Farm, which was listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register on June 17, 1998, and added to the National Register of Historic Places on Oct. 30, 1998

Jermale Fitz, of Glasgow, is charged with arson of an unoccupied dwelling, burglary and intentional damage to a monument, in connection with the fire, according to the Rockbridge County Sheriff’s Office.

The building was located at the intersection of U.S. 501 and Virginia Route 130.

He’s currently being held without bond at Rockbridge Regional Jail.

Authorities also said no one was hurt in Sunday’s fire.

On Friday, January 21, the family that owns the Echols Farm sent the following statement to 10 News:

Members of the extended family associated with the Echols Farm in Glasgow express appreciation for the support received from the Rockbridge County community in response to the fire that destroyed our ancestral home on Sunday, January 16, 2022. We are grateful to the first responders: the Glasgow Volunteer Fire Department, the Natural Bridge Volunteer Fire Company, the Buena Vista Fire Department, the Effinger Volunteer Fire Department, the South River Volunteer Fire Department, and the Lexington Volunteer Fire Department for fighting the fire, and to the neighboring fire companies and emergency squads that were prevented from reaching the scene due to the weather. We are also grateful for the quick response and support from the Rockbridge County Sherriff’s Department. Responding to and fighting a fire in the midst of winter storm Izzy was difficult and dangerous. We are relieved that there was no loss of life and that all first responders returned safely to their families.

Although the Echols family is now scattered throughout Virginia and beyond, our hearts are deeply rooted in Glasgow. The family would like to recognize Clarence Martin, who for over 33 years has been the caretaker of the house. We consider Clarence a member of our family; we know he loves the house as much as we do and he shares in our heartbreak. We are touched by the prayers and kind words from so many neighbors in the area including the parishioners of St. John’s Episcopal Church Glasgow, which was founded on the Echols Farm property. The more than one hundred living members of our extended family feel as though we have lost a family member, but the outpouring of support from the community is helping to relieve our sadness.

“The Farm” has been home to many happy family occasions: celebrations of baptisms, weddings, reunions, holidays, and vacations. It has also been a place of comfort during times of mourning at family funerals and memorial services. This is a sad time for us, but we consider ourselves blessed to receive the support of this community and to be reminded that family, friends, and neighbors are what make a place special.

This prayer was shared with our family shortly after the fire: “The Farm represents many happy memories. The memories do not reside in a place, but rather in the hearts of those who lived the special moments that formed those memories.” We look forward to future happy times at Echols Farm, and we thank you for your continued prayers for our family.

Echols family