Across Appalachia

Weeklong Warehouse Fire Raised Air Quality Concerns

Date: December 5, 2017

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Around 1 a.m. on Oct. 21, a fire started at an IEI Plastics-owned warehouse storing plastics and unknown materials in Parkersburg, W.Va. In the roughly eight-day blaze that ensued, Gov. Jim Justice declared a state of emergency for Wood County. The cause of the fire, which Wood County Commission President Blair Couch stated would cost the county $1.5 million, was not determined at press time.

The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry detected spikes in particulate matter during the first few days of the fire. The Parkersburg News and Sentinel reported that “schools, county agencies and businesses closed as health officials warned people to stay indoors and avoid breathing the smoke.”

A class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of residents against IEI Plastics and others for current and future hospital bills, emotional distress, gross negligence and more, as reported by the News and Sentinel. A hearing was set for Nov. 22.

— Kevin Ridder

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