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Glass plant fire costs adding up

by Shawn Gainer

STAFF WRITER

Fighting the fire at the former Anchor Hocking glass plant has been expensive for the city of Clarksburg.

For the pay period ending Oct. 10, overtime pay for firefighters and police totaled $4,328, City Finance Director Frank Ferrari said. Ferrari added that figures for emergency personnel overtime after that date are not yet available.

"There will be more overtime this pay period," he said. "We're looking at a nominal amount for the police department but a hefty amount for the fire department -- several thousand dollars."

While expenses related to the fire will be less than the unexpected expenses last fiscal year, they come at a delicate time for the city, Ferrari said.

The city is still paying claims carried over from a costly self-funded insurance program for municipal employees.

Other unanticipated expenses in fiscal year 1999 have created a tight budget situation this year, according to Ferrari.

"It couldn't happen at a worse time," he said. "We're still trying to make it up from last year."

There's little the city can do to eliminate the expense.

The fire, which started about 6:50 p.m. Oct. 8, has been fueled by 10,000 tons of bundled paper awaiting recycling.

The plant, which was closed Nov. 1, 1987, was being used as a warehouse by American Fiber Resources LP, of Fairmont.

At the fire's peak on Oct. 8, about 45 firefighters from Clarksburg and Bridgeport were at the scene, according to Scott.

Since Oct. 9 at 4 p.m., two firefighters have been at the scene 24 hours a day, seven days a week, said Lieutenant Joe Bennett of the Clarksburg Fire Department.

"We'll have people over there 24/7 until the paper goes out," Bennett said. "Everybody has put in extra duty."

According to a plan submitted to the fire department by American Fiber Resources, contractors will be removing burning debris from the building through Oct. 26. Once paper is removed, firefighters will spray it with water and inspect it to ensure it is no longer burning before it is transported to a landfill.

"The problem is the paper is stacked and as the buried layers are exposed to air, they'll ignite," Bennett said. "It's like using a poker in a fireplace."

Staff writer Shawn Gainer can be reached at 626-1442 or by e-mail at sgainer@exponent-telegram.com.

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