CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Now that a massive fire is out in Parkersburg, state and local officials are trying to figure out what caused it and determine the path to cleanup.
“Somebody’s going to have to get the stuff out of there,” Wood County Commission President Blair Couch said today, “and I don’t think the solution is just to put a chain link fence over there and say our job is done.”
The 420,000-square-foot property, which was storing recyclable plastics, caught fire early last Saturday morning and had been burning ever since, sending a plume of smoke billowing over the city and across the Ohio border.
The remains of the fire at the warehouse owned by International Export Import were extinguished about noon Sunday. A 36-hour cool-down phase is set to end at midnight today.
Officials are now eyeing other local properties under the same ownership, Couch said today.
“We know the efforts of the Fire Marshal and West Virginia DEP are ongoing — researching his other properties — because he has a few here. That’s a concern of the citizens of Wood County: If this can happen once, can it happen again?” Couch said.
The potential effects of the plastics that burned also remain an issue.
“They’re still monitoring the environmental impact that could remain after the site is deemed returned to the property owners,” Couch said on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”
Last Thursday, the Division of Environmental Protection issued an order to Intercontinental Export Import, Inc., demanding immediate information about what materials were stored on the property.
Lawrence Messina, director of communications for the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, told the Parkersburg News and Sentinel that information was submitted Sunday and is being reviewed.
“They received information this afternoon and the DEP is in the process of determining if it fits the information that was required,” Messina said.
Environmental regulators want to know how IEI plans to properly dispose of the material.
“EPA is very interested in the action plan going forward by the corporation that owns that property. How are they going to clean that up? How are they going to lessen the impact?” Couch said.
Investigators should soon have greater access to the property to determine how the fire began, Couch said.
“I’m sure the Fire Marshal’s going to be in this facility going through what they can try to identify as the source,” he said.