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W.Va. mulch company to implement new fire

April 01, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - The owner of mulch operation that caught fire March 18 plans to implement several fire protection measures at the facility.

John Lowe III said he plans to install three fire hydrants along the back of the property at Lowe Products Co. along W.Va. 45.

Lowe said he is interested in purchasing a tanker truck from the Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department. He said the tanker would be stationed at the mulch operation in case of fire.

The fire department wants to buy a new tanker truck, but must first sell the older model, Lowe said.

Although the truck would be stationed at Lowe Products, it could be used at any time by the fire department, said Lowe, who operates the facility with three brothers.

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"I think it's going to be a good plan for both us and the volunteer fire department," said Lowe.

Shepherdstown Fire Chief Leon Catrow said he wants to work with Lowe on the plan.

A mulch pile about the size of a football field caught fire at Lowe Products Co., spewing thick black smoke across much of Shepherdstown. Firefighters from three states battled the blaze, which fire officials later determined was started by a discarded cigarette.

Lowe said there was a fire hydrant near the mulch pile, but its line was not big enough for the fire department. Firefighters then had to go to another water source, said Lowe.

The fire hydrant system, which is being designed by Alpha Associates, should be finished by summer, said Lowe.

Despite the scale of the fire, it only caused minimal damage to the company's mulch supplies, said Lowe.

The fire "touched across" the top of the pile, and did not burn moist mulch underneath, said Lowe.

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