UPDATE | Fire destroys massive building along the Ohio River

Published: Mar. 17, 2019 at 12:26 AM EDT
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UPDATE 3/18/19 @ 5:05 p.m.

A view from Air 3 shows the remains of the massive fire Saturday night along the banks of the Ohio River. It's next-door to the Pomeroy police station and in site of downtown.

The building is huge -- larger than a football field. The huge metal I-beams from inside the structure are twisted like a pretzel.

The fire at Belt Transfer started around 11:15 p.m. Saturday. It was like nothing Pomeroy Fire Chief Rick Blaettnar has ever seen. He tells us it is a big loss for the small community.

Flames were already shooting out of the roof as firefighters arrived so there was nothing they could do.

"It was a very difficult fire,” said Blaettnar.

The building measures 424 feet long, which is 20 yards longer than a football field and almost 200 feet wide.

For more than three years, Belt Transfer has used it as a warehouse and recycling facility for a special aluminum-lithium alloy used in aircraft. The material is so specialized there's no furnace in the United States hot enough to melt it, so the leftover scraps from a Ravenswood manufacturing facility are bundled in Pomeroy then shipped back to France.

"Pretty neat,” said Blaettnar. “I didn't know that until today."

He estimates 250,000 gallons of water were used to fight the fire. Still, it was not enough to save it. The structure sits one mile from downtown Pomeroy, which is clearly visible.

"Anytime you lose a business, it's a big deal, especially in a small town like we have,” he said. “It does affect Pomeroy."

But despite the massive size, just two employees worked on-site.

Company officials would not talk on camera Monday, but said they will be transferred elsewhere. Blaettnar hopes, along with the rest of the town, that it's only temporary.

"I hope they rebuild. That would be nice."

About 70 firefighters were on scene Saturday night to help fight the fire. They needed several fire department vehicles including two ladder trucks.

An investigator with the State Fire Marshal's Office was on scene Monday afternoon trying to determine the cause.


It took five departments to battle a massive fire late Saturday night and into early Sunday morning in Pomeroy, Ohio.

The fire at Mountaineer Metals was reported around 11:15 p.m, Pomeroy Fire Chief Rick Blaettnar told WSAZ.

Firefighters who were first on the scene encountered huge flames that lit up the night sky.

Blaettnar said they immediately went into “defensive mode.”

Once the other departments rushed to the scene, he estimated that 70 people fought the fire.

At the height of the fire, Blaettnar said, two ladder trucks, eight fire department engine trucks, two rescues, and a medic squad were there.

The fire was brought under control early Sunday.

AEP has a power substation near the location of the fire and WSAZ received reports of power lines on fire.

Blaettnar told WSAZ the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

No injuries were reported.

Keep checking the WSAZ app and wsaz.com for updates.