Hardin fire captain perishes in Saturday house fire

By David Knopf/Richmond News

Wesley Legg, a 39-year-old former chief of the Hardin Fire Protection District, died in a fire at his home Saturday, leaving his wife and a daughter.

Legg had most recently been serving as captain for the volunteer department.

Initially, several sources, including the volunteer fire department’s current chief, a fellow Hardin volunteer and a sheriff’s department officer, said Legg’s death was under investigation by the Missouri State Fire Marshal and Ray County Sheriff’s Department.  They declined to comment further until the investigation was completed.

However, late Tuesday morning, Department of Public Safety spokesman Mike O’Connell said the Division of Fire Safety/Office of the State Fire Marshal had been called in to investigate the cause and origin of the fire, and had completed its investigation.

“It was determined that the fire was incendiary (set),” said in an email.  “This is the extent of our involvement.”

O’Connell said the Division of Fire Safety hadn’t been called in to investigate Legg’s death, but what caused the fire – even though the two were related. The case has been turned over to Ray County Coroner Toby Polley, who is expected to complete his report once the results of an autopsy are known.

Out of respect for surviving family members, leaders of area fire departments declined to talk about the nature of Saturday’s fatal fire. Hardin Fire Chief Malcolm Cunningham issued a statement, however, also Tuesday.

“It is with great sadness that the Hardin Fire Protection District reports that fire captain, Wesley Legg, passed away at his home Saturday, Oct. 26,” Cunningham said. “Fire crews responded to the scene in a timely manner and made successful suppression. Upon primary search, our crew located his body and he was soon pronounced deceased.”

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