POINT PLEASANT — A Friday morning fire on the grounds of the old Marietta Plant has been determined to be arson — the second arson at the site this year.
The Point Pleasant Fire Department was notified of the fire around 2:30 a.m. on Friday morning. Firefighters arrived to find one of the buildings at the old plant fully engulfed, according to Point Pleasant Fire Chief Jeremy Bryant. Firefighters from both the Flatrock and Gallipolis Fire Departments also assisted in subduing the blaze. Firefighters were on the scene until around 8 a.m. Friday morning and at 1 p.m. Friday afternoon, the scene was still smoldering as cleanup began.
The old plant belongs to Warlick, LLC out of Del Ray Beach, Fla. Bryant says they manufacture tannins which are made from tree sap and then shipped around the world. The tannins as well as burlap sacks were stored inside the building, along with several wooden pallets. The fire basically destroyed the contents of the building and heavily damaged the structure.
Bryant said Friday’s fire and the previous fire in April are considered connected. He said with the building being fully engulfed when firefighters arrived, he was unable to tell at this point where in the structure it started or how but added no electricity was going to the building. An official with the office of the West Virginia State Fire Marshal had been called to investigate the scene.
According to Juan Nino who oversees the operation, though there are several buildings on the grounds of the old plant, Warlick, LLC, only utilizes one — the same one which has caught fire twice in three months.
When the first fire happened in April, Nino and another employee said they believed it could be a random act or set by teenage vandals. However, now that the second arson has occurred, the two men believe the fires are not random vandalism but rather premeditated. Nino said whoever is destroying the property knows to come to the one building on the site that the company utilizes and therefore knows how and where to “hurt” the operation.
For those with anonymous tips or information on this fire or the one in April, phone the office of West Virginia State Fire Marshal at 1-800-233-3473. The State Fire Marshal’s Office does offer up to a $2,500 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction of a person(s) responsible for setting a fire.