FLAT TOP, W.Va. — A memorial dedicated to the four people killed in the explosion of the Little General convenience store near Ghent, W.Va. will not be ready by the 10th anniversary of the disaster later this month.
Organizers say red tape slowed the progress on the project, but they’re confident they’ll move quickly now that property issues have been resolved.
“Little General very generously has donated the property to Flat Top Lake,” said Hazel Burroughs, widow of Fred Burroughs who died in the 2007 explosion. “Flat Top Lake will be leasing the property for a couple of years due to some legalities and then they will own the property.”
Getting through those legal entanglements to transfer the property took longer than Burroughs had hoped, but she added the paperwork was finalized in December. She had hoped to have the memorial ready for the 10th anniversary on January 30th. Since that won’t happen, they’ve reset their schedule.
“We hope to be starting as early in the spring as we can and our deadline for having it completed is Memorial Day,” she said. “We’d like to do the dedication that weekend sometime.”
The memorial will be a 30 x 40 foot slab with four concrete pillars bearing bronze markers paying tribute to four people killed. The story of the site will be etched into a marble stone and a flagpole will be part of the memorial. Donations will pay for most of the work.
“All of the donations we’ve received are from ordinary citizens in the area,” Burroughs said. “We have about $12,000 in cash and another $10,000 in in-kind donations.”
A leaking propane tank ignited and exploded on January 30, 2007 leveling the store and leaving four people, including Burroughs’ husband Fred dead. Five others were injured. Two of the victims were members of the Ghent Volunteer Fire Department who had responded to the report of the gas smell at the store.
Each year since the explosion, the Ghent Volunteer Fire Department has marked the anniversary with a memorial blood drive at the fire station.