Dave Mistich Published

Wood County Moves Forward with Fire Response After Emergency Declaration


For the latest on the fire in Wood County, see here.


Updated: October 24, 2017 at 12:38 a.m.


Governor Jim Justice declared a state of emergency in Wood County on Monday afternoon, following an industrial fire that has burned at the former Ames tool plant since early Saturday morning.


A large, dark plume of smoke and the smell of burnt plastic continues to linger over Parkersburg and the surrounding area, causing schools, municipal and circuit courts, as well as county government to be closed again Tuesday.

State and county officials said Monday evening they still aren’t sure of the exact makeup of the materials that were stored at the facility but are reviewing documentation the owner of the site has handed over.

Larry Messina, spokesman for state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, said the Department of Environmental Protection continues to monitor the site, with help from Arkansas-based environmental consulting firm Center for Toxicological, Environmental & Health.

“The goal is to make sure that the testing is as comprehensive as possible to rule out any potential risk to public health and safety,” said Messina. “I think that’s one reason why the county brought in that outside contractor — to make sure we’re very thorough about what what we think is up in the air and what that poses for the people in the area.”

Specialized Professional Services Inc. of  Washington, Pennsylvania has also been contracted to assist with firefighting and other aspects of the continued response.

According to DEP-issued consent orders, Intercontinental Export Import, Inc. has been cited in the past — at the same location of the fire — for failing to provide monthly water pollution reports to state regulators. According to its website, IEI is a subsidiary of Sirnaik. The West Virginia Secretary of State’s office has a “Warehousing and Storage” company chartered in Wood County under the name Surnaik Holdings of WV, LLC.

Messina said officials have yet to identify any law or regulation that would have required the property owners to identify its contents to a state agency or program, but also indicated that a review is ongoing.

Moving forward, weather conditions are expected to improve for firefighting efforts as well as air quality in the area, according to Tony Edwards of the National Weather Service in Charleston.

“That plume is going to be able to rise and escape a little better. It should be heading off towards the north and then veer around to the north east in time. But at a more stable trajectory and keep it heading to the north and northeast,” said Edwards. “So, overall, that should help efforts and improve air quality a little bit as we go through time. Unfortunately, [it will not be] anything like we saw over the weekend with the plume going straight up and a good air quality but at least an improvement.”

The state Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause of the fire.