“You’re fighting Godzilla,” governor says.
PARKERSBURG – The governor today pledged every resource available will be brought to bear in Wood County where a fire at a warehouse in south Parkersburg has burned since early Saturday.
“I want you to be safe,” Gov. Jim Justice said at a press conference after he toured the site of the IEI Plastics warehouse on Camden Avenue, the site of the former Ames shovel plant. He was accompanied by several representatives of his cabinet.
Questions during the press conference included the quality of the air.
Justice said 150 samples taken by the Department of Environmental Protection from different locations were below the acceptable level of 1,000 ppm for carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, chlorine and ammonia.
If more can be done to make sure, it should be done, the governor said.
“I can’t sleep at night until we get the results,” Commission President Blair Couch said. “I can’t sleep.”
Weather conditions this weekend allowed the billowing black smoke from the fire to rise hundreds of feet into the air where it was blown away by the prevailing winds.
However, weather conditions changed Monday and the smoke settled closer to the ground, prompting advisories and encouraging people to stay indoors. Schools were canceled and businesses, county and federal governments closed.
Other questions were about the plastics being stored in the warehouse and whether the material safety data sheets were available. The information remains unavailable, but will be disclosed as soon as it is obtained, the governor said.
The site is in the county and the county commission has footed the bill for the expenses to fight the fire, which is expected to be several hundred thousand dollars.
“Without your support, I’m not sure we could have made payroll,” Couch told the governor.
Justice didn’t say from where the money would come, but said he wouldn’t let Wood County go bankrupt.
“For crying out loud, you can’t let Wood County not make payroll,” he said.
Couch and Justice pointed out the fire has yet to be extingished and has to be out before the West Virginia Fire Marshal can go on site to determine the cause. The fire has to be out before the material can be analyzed, they said.
It could be a few more days, according to Mark Stewart, chief of the Lubeck Volunteer Fire Department and incident commander.
Justice cited the enormity of the fire.
“You’re fighting Godzilla,” he said.