CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Firefighters in the Parkersburg area discovered that a fire that burned at a warehouse for more than a week had continued to smolder in a spot even after the fire was declared extinguished.
Firefighters responded late Wednesday evening to reports of smoke rising from the Intercontinental Export Import, Inc. site, said Lawrence Messina, spokesman for the state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.
Lubeck Fire Chief Mark Stewart and volunteer firefighters responded to the scene.
“The firefighters found that materials covered by a large steel beam had continued to smolder,” Messina stated today. “Firefighters doused the spot with about 1,000 gallons of water from a pumper truck.”
The firefighters were returning to the scene this morning to examine the spot further.
“It is not unexpected that such flare-ups might occur as air reaches the depths of the fire scene, and this was the reason behind the 48-hour cool-down period,” Messina stated.
The 420,000 square feet of property, which was storing recyclable plastics, caught fire early Oct. 21 and burned for the next eight days, sending a plume of smoke billowing over the city and across the Ohio border.
Messina said teams from the state Fire Marshal’s Office and the Department of Environmental Protection have scheduled inspections over the next several days for 12 sites.
Several sites are affiliated with IEI, he said. Others are warehouse properties in the area of the fire scene but unrelated to IEI.
“Officials continue to work toward compiling a comprehensive list of IEI-affiliated properties for public release,” Messina said.
Messina reported earlier this week that IEI still has not sufficiently complied with an order to detail exactly what materials were stored at the site.
Representatives of Intercontinental Export Import, Inc. submitted records by email on Sunday and in person on Monday, he said.
“WV DEP has concluded that these records do not sufficiently satisfy the Order for Compliance, and specifically its directive requiring detailed inventory of all materials that were burned at the site,” Messina stated in a Tuesday update about the fire investigation.
Last Thursday, DEP issued an order to Intercontinental Export Import, Inc., demanding immediate information about what materials were stored on the property. DEP is also demanding to know how IEI plans to properly dispose of the material.
Today, Messina restated IEI’s responsibility.
“It remains the responsibility of the owner to secure the site and otherwise obey all applicable laws and regulations as well as the Oct. 26 Order for Compliance,” he stated.
“It appears the owner has erected a fence with locked gates around the property. It has also been represented to Incident Command that security guards are being hired and would be on-site starting today.”
Incident Command continues to have access to the site, he said.