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Chemical Plant Fire Forces Evacuations, Closes Interstate

January 25, 1985

ONA, W.Va. (AP) _ Fire erupted at a pesticide plant Thursday afternoon, forcing evacuation of 1,500 people from schools and homes and closing a seven-mile stretch of Interstate 64 before being brought under control, authorities said.

No injuries were reported in the fire at the Holder Co., about 30 miles west of Charleston, which was under control by 5 p.m., about 21/2 hours after it began, said Mannie Griffith of the state Office of Emergency Services.

The fire ignited a quantity of the insecticide Sevin, but that no one was injured by the fumes, said Barboursville Fire Chief Steve Parsons.

A federal Environmental Protection Agency official was trying to determine the contents of 16 chemical drums being stored at the site, including substances recovered during a cleanup ordered by the EPA in 1982.

Calls to the plant were answered by a telephone recording. A state police dispatcher said the plant had not been operating ″for quite a while.″ Parsons said officials were having problems finding the plant’s owner.

Cabell County Sheriff’s Department Capt. G.R. Waugh said a cloud of smoke from the fire drifted over the I-64, forcing authorities to close the highway between Ona and Milton until about 5:15 p.m.

People within 2,000 feet of the plant were evacuated as a precaution, said Waugh.

At least 200 homes were evacuated, and the 1,500 evacuees included 500 children removed from schools, said Cabell County Sheriff’s Deputy T.W. McComas.

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