A major industrial fire at a plastics warehouse in Parkersburg, W. Va., remained active on Oct. 25, five days after it first was reported.
The fire has led Gov. Jim Justice to declare a state of emergency for the county where the warehouse is located.
The fire is at a warehouse owned and operated by recycling firm Intercontinental Export Import Inc. (IEI). IEI is part of SirNaik Group, a collection of recycling, scrap and compounding businesses in West Virginia and nearby states.
The fire was first reported early on Oct. 21 and remained active as of 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 25, according to Lawrence Messina, a spokesman with the state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.
“We've been fighting it for more than 100 hours now,” Messina said in an Oct. 25 phone interview with Plastics News. “There's now a contractor on site to help move debris and find hotspots”
The plant was empty at the time the fire was reported. No injuries have been reported among the more than 100 firefighters who have been involved.
No cause of the fire has been identified, and Messina said there was no timetable for when the fire was expected to be fully extinguished.
At an Oct. 24 news conference with other state and local officials, Gov. Justice said that the state “is committed to making sure essential emergency services will continue without interruption.”
The declaration of emergency for Wood County resulted in schools and some government offices being closed because of smoke caused by the fire. Local schools and offices remained closed Oct. 25, but hoped to reopen by Oct. 27, Messina said. Air testing has found no presence of unsafe volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
The size of the IEI facility and lack of knowledge of its contents have presented problems for firefighters. The site covers 450,000 square feet spread over three buildings, including a massive structure that alone covers 350,000 square feet.
Accurate records of the types of plastic materials at the site were destroyed in the fire.
“I'd say the biggest challenge has been not knowing what's in the building,” Messina said. “The owners have a general sense of what was there, but we need specifics. They had a binder of safety data sheets for what had been delivered, but it wasn't current.”
IEI officials could not be reached for comment. The fire was contained to the IEI facility and didn't spread to adjacent properties.