West Virginia Officials: Source of Fires May Never be Known

May 5, 2008

West Virginia Officials may never know the source of gas buildup that caused two small fires and prompted a handful of evacuations in the Marion County community of Metz.

The Delaney family was asleep when an explosion “lifted the house about 8 to 12 inches off the foundation” around 4:30 a.m. on April 30, said Bob Delaney.

Delaney was able to put out the resulting fire fairly quickly.

That afternoon, a flash fire broke out next door in a workshop where someone was welding, Department of Environmental Protection Emergency Response Unit Chief Mike Dorsey said May 2.

Explosive gas had built up in both structures and was ignited by unknown sources.

Dorsey says the source of the gas hasn’t been determined and “if it doesn’t recur, we may never know.”

After the fires, county emergency officials advised residents of about a half dozen homes to evacuate. Emergency Services Director Chris McIntire said May 2 that he thought a few residents had yet to return.

Consol Energy is investigating to determine whether area gas wells the Pittsburgh-based company has capped in preparation for mining operations could be a factor. But Senior Vice President Tom Hoffman says no methane was discovered except the usual levels found at water wells.

Information from: Times West Virginian, http://www.timeswv.com

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