Wood County to get $1.4M from state for fighting fire

PARKERSBURG — Wood County Commissioners Monday are going to Charleston where they will accept a check to cover the county’s expenses from the Intercontinental Export Import plastics fire.

A check for $1.4 million will be given to the county commission at 2 p.m. Monday in a presentation in the Governor’s Reception Room at the state Capitol.

The fire at the IEI warehouse on Camden Avenue, the former Ames shovel plant, occurred the early morning of Oct. 21 and burned for more than a week, sending a thick black plume of smoke hundreds of feet into the air that was seen as far north as Cambridge, Ohio.

Fire departments from the region were involved in fighting the fire, including a private contractor hired by the county from Washington, Pa.

None of the vendors have asked for payment, but slow payments wouldn’t be fair, according to commission President Blair Couch.

“When we called them, they came,” he said.

Most of the bills from the fire have been collected, County Commissioner Jimmy Colombo said. The $1.4 million will be close to actual expenses; however, there may be some invoices of which the county commission is unaware, Colombo said.

“I certainly hope not,” he said.

Couch and Colombo both expressed an appreciation for the efforts by Gov. Jim Justice to help with the fire, both financially and with material. Until the governor pledged aid, things looked so financially bleak for the county that making payroll would have been difficult, according to Couch.

“It would have left us with nothing,” he said.

The county commission plans to leave for Charleston after the Monday morning commission meeting ends at noon, Couch said.

A cause of the fire has yet to be determined. Four lawsuits, which have been transferred to federal court in Charleston, have so far been filed from the fire.

Among the officials expected to be at the check presentation are Mike Hall, Justice’s chief of staff, and Jeff Sandy, secretary of the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.

The funds will come from the Governor’s Contingency Fund, the governor’s office said. The state will pursue reimbursement from the property owner and its insurance company, the office said.