Fire a big loss for Pomeroy community, fire chief says

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POMEROY, Ohio (WSAZ) UPDATE: 3/18/19 6:05 P.M.

A view from Air 3 shows the remains of the massive fire Saturday night along the banks of the Ohio River. It's next-door to the Pomeroy police station and in site of downtown.

The building is huge -- larger than a football field. The huge metal
I-beams from inside the structure are twisted like a pretzel.

The fire at Belt Transfer started around 11:15 p.m. Saturday. It was like nothing Pomeroy Fire Chief Rick Blaettnar has ever seen. He tells us it is a big loss for the small community.

Flames were already shooting out of the roof as firefighters arrived so there was nothing they could do.

"It was a very difficult fire,” said Blaettnar.

The building measures 424 feet long, which is 20 yards longer than a football field and almost 200 feet wide.

For more than three years, Belt Transfer has used it as a warehouse and recycling facility for a special aluminum-lithium alloy used in aircraft. The material is so specialized there's no furnace in the United States hot enough to melt it, so the leftover scraps from a Ravenswood manufacturing facility are bundled in Pomeroy then shipped back to France.

"Pretty neat,” said Blaettnar. “I didn't know that until today."

He estimates 250,000 gallons of water were used to fight the fire. Still, it was not enough to save it. The structure sits one mile from downtown Pomeroy, which is clearly visible.

"Anytime you lose a business, it's a big deal, especially in a small town like we have,” he said. “It does affect Pomeroy."

But despite the massive size, just two employees worked on-site.

Company officials would not talk on camera Monday, but said they will be transferred elsewhere. Blaettnar hopes, along with the rest of the town, that it's only temporary.

"I hope they rebuild. That would be nice."

About 70 firefighters were on scene Saturday night to help fight the fire. They needed several fire department vehicles including two ladder trucks.

An investigator with the State Fire Marshal's Office was on scene Monday afternoon trying to determine the cause.


Update: 3/17/2019

A Southeastern Ohio business is a total loss after a major overnight fire.

The fire broke out just after 11 P.M. Saturday, and took fire departments from Pomeroy, Ohio and surrounding communities the entire night to put out.

The flames and smoke were so intense, they could be picked up on our Pinpoint Weather radar.

Still, firefighters were able to keep it away from nearby buildings-including the nearby Pomeroy Police Department offices-businesses and utility lines.

"The power lines and utility lines that were running down Main Street as well as the phone lines-that's a major phone cable that runs through there-that was a big concern," says Rick Blaettnar, Chief, Pomeroy Fire Department. "We had two ladders and eight engines, and we just started a defensive attack and dumping water on it."

The state fire marshal's office is due in Monday to investigate, but the chief believes the fire is accidental in nature.

The business, Mountaineer Metals Company, is a small manufacturer of fabricated metal products, according to various websites. It's been in business just since 2005, but the building housed several other businesses before it, according to Chief Blaettnar and residents we spoke to.

"Here in Meigs County, there's nothing, no jobs, none at all," said Scott Chapman of neighboring Middleport, Ohio. "You can work minimum wage if you want to."

Chapman is a life-long area resident who watched the fire throughout the night, and knew people who worked there. He says the business will be missed.

"It's going to be different with it gone. You get used to seeing something like that, and then it's gone. Everything old seems like it's going away around here. It's falling in or burning up."

There were no reported injuries from the late night fire.


3/17/2019

It took five departments to battle a massive fire late Saturday night and into early Sunday morning in Pomeroy, Ohio.

The fire at Mountaineer Metals was reported around 11:15 p.m, Pomeroy Fire Chief Rick Blaettnar told WSAZ.

Firefighters who were first on the scene encountered huge flames that lit up the night sky.

Blaettnar said they immediately went into “defensive mode.”

Once the other departments rushed to the scene, he estimated that 70 people fought the fire.

At the height of the fire, Blaettnar said, two ladder trucks, eight fire department engine trucks, two rescues, and a medic squad were there.

The fire was brought under control early Sunday.

AEP has a power substation near the location of the fire and WSAZ received reports of power lines on fire.

Blaettnar told WSAZ the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

No injuries were reported.