POINT PLEASANT — Three fires involving propellants and ammunition happening less than a week apart have investigators trying to solve a mystery.
The first fire was reported last Sunday, July 1 at the building which used to be the old Mason County Dog Shelter near the McClintic Wildlife Management Area. The building is now privately owned by West Virginia Ordinance which is owned by Richard King of Pittsburgh, Pa., according to investigators. The fire at the old shelter involved propellants and ammunition and was brought under control by firefighters with the Point Pleasant Fire Department. Point Pleasant Fire Chief Jeremy Bryant said investigators with the West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office were called to investigate the fire with the cause remaining undetermined at this time.
Then, this past Saturday evening, Point Pleasant Fire Department personnel were dispatched to the McClinitic Wildlife/TNT area to an old munitions bunker also owned by King and West Virginia Ordinance which had exploded and caught fire. Bryant said this bunker was also filled with propellants and ammunition. This explosion caused shrapnel and other debris to be dispersed into the surrounding area, creating brush fires around the site. About an hour and a half after firefighters arrived on the scene in TNT, they were dispatched to another explosion, this time in a tractor trailer owned by King which was parked at his home along Ohio River Rd. north of Point Pleasant, near Kirkland Memorial Gardens.
Again, the trailer contained propellants and ammunition and firefighters from not only Point Pleasant, but also from Mason and New Haven had to fight the fire from a safe distance due to projectiles being shot out of the trailer. This explosion also caused secondary brush fires near King’s home though Bryant said it didn’t seem to damage the house except for minor damage to shingles on the roof.
Bryant said there was no electricity going to the structures which caught fire, so at this point investigators are trying to determine if the fires were intentionally set or heat-related. Investigators with the W.Va. State Fire Marshal’s Office are also investigating this weekend’s explosions which remain under investigation.
Bryant said King was not home or in the area when the fires started. King and West Virginia Ordinance also owned a bunker in the TNT area that exploded in 2010. That explosion was determined to be caused by a deterioration of the ammunition and the excessive heat. Of course excessive heat was a major factor this past weekend and the prior weekend when the first fire was reported.
There have been no injuries reported from the fires, Bryant said.