UPDATE: WV to reimburse Wood County Monday for fire expenses

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PARKERSBURG, WV (WTAP) - Update: 12/1/2017 3:00 P.M.

WV officials will issue a check Monday to Wood County for the than $1.4 million for expenses from October's fire at the IEI warehouse on Camden Avenue.

After the fire started October 21, Wood County Commission President Blair Couch feared it would "backrupt the county". Couch repeated that Friday, adding it was shortly afterward Gov. Jim Justice stepped in and said the state would cover the county's costs of battling the fire, which was put out after eight days.

"And when I said we wouldn't make payroll, I didn't say in November," Couch said. "I said, December, January, but at some point we would run out of money, fighting this fire, which we did not cause, and was not our property."

The check presentation is set for 2 P.M. Monday at the state capital in Charleston.

Update: 11/14/2017 5:00 P.M.

Wood County officials have now released a list of the organizatons submitting bills from October's IEI Plastics warehouse fire.

So far, 26 agencies, including eight fire departments, have billed the county from the fire that burned from October 21-29.

Those bills currently total more than $1.44 million-although County Administrator Marty Seufer says there likely are more bills coming.

The largest bill-for $916,491.59-is from Specialized Professional Services, Inc. That firm provided hazmat and firefighting assistance during the eight day fire.

The Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health (CTEH), who provided air quality monitoring services, handed in a bill for $390,454.92.

The Parkersburg Utility Board handed in a $42,704 bill, for the large volume of water used to fight the fire.

And the lead fire department in the effort, the Lubeck Volunteer Fire Department, submitted a $10,910 bill.

Other fire departments from Wood and Washington Counties so far collectively have bills in amounting to more than $18,000.

That includes a $8,595 bill from the Marietta Fire Department.

You can see a full breakdown of all the IEI Fire costs paid by Wood County, in the "Related Documents" section of this story.

Update: 11/13/2017 6:15 P.M.

Wood County Commissioners say bills from the October IEI Plastics fire will not be completed until Tuesday.

County officials are to meet then with the state of West Virginia, which has pledged to cover the costs.

Gov. Jim Justice, in a news conference Monday, said its hoped the property's owner can eventually cover those bills.

"We're hopeful that we're going to collect every single dime the state had to spend. But the alternative was as simple as mud," Justice said. "You don't know what was going into the air. The place was burning. And we had children and everyone in Parkersburg and everyone else around who were in danger or were endangered."

The commission plans to send copies of those bills to both the state and to the owners of the Camden Avenue property.

Update: 11/9/2017 5:45 P.M.

Saturday marks three weeks since the start of the IEI Plastics warehouse fire.

And the Wood County Commission discusses efforts to clean up what's left of the debris.

Commission President Blair Couch says he was informed sampling of the rubble from that fire has to be conducted before any cleanup can take place.

Then there's the matter of what the owner of that site plans to do with it in the future.

"I'm sure if he's going to keep his property, as I'm sure he is, that he has to develop his own plan for reconstruction," said Commissioner Jimmy Colombo. "And I've heard on the street that he has approached some people about rebuilding there. I can't verify that."

Couch says the county hopes to have by Monday a completed list of bills to be sent to the state, for its reimbursement of the county's costs of fighting the eight-day fire.


It will cost Wood County $1.5 million to put out the fire at the IEI, Inc. Plastics Recycling warehouse in south Parkersburg.

Wood County Commission president Blair Couch made that statement Monday morning.

That cost also includes testing for air quality and other problems related to the fire that took more than a week to put out.

Now that it has that cost figure, the county is putting its bills together to present them to the state for reimbursement.

"I don't think anyone was under the assumption it wouldn't be a huge number. We understood that pretty clearly on Sunday and Monday (right after the fire began)," Couch said at Monday morning's commission meeting. "We want to make sure the Niaks (the property owners)...based on all the information I've seen from them, they are not even discussing how they are going to pay for the fire, or the environmental testing."

Couch says without West Virginia's help, the fire costs would have drained its contingency and other funds.

Governor Jim Justice pledged the state's help two days after the start of the fire on October 21.

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