CHARLESTON - Kanawha Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib granted an attorney's wishes, temporarily putting a stop to cleanup procedures at the site of the May 4-5 tire fire in a Nitro warehouse.

David Carriger of Charleston law firm The Calwell Practice filed a motion for a temporary restraining order on May 12. The lawsuit was filed a week earlier by Stephen D. Gilliam, on behalf of himself and a class of others similarly situated.

Carriger argued that further cleanup of the site would be damaging to his case.

"The restraining order is necessary to prevent the irreparable loss of physical evidence in this action," Carriger's motion stated.

He added that he had been advised by the counsel for Chemvalley Properties, Inc., one of the defendants in the case, that cleanup was ongoing and that "a significant amount of such material has already been removed."

Zakaib put a halt on that, and Carriger and Stuart Calwell are now free to collect evidence.

The lawsuit blames U.S. Tire Recovery and Chemvalley Properties, as well as any unknown companies storing tires in the Nitro warehouse, for the fire, which burned for two days and shut down the town of Nitro.

U.S. Tire had been ordered to formulate a plan to remove the tires in November by the state Department of Environmental Protection. U.S. Tire owner Ricky Handley was charged with a felony count of operating a waste tire processing facility with more than 1,000 tires without a permit.

The charge was dismissed in Putnam County and forwarded to the Kanawha County Prosecutor's Office.

Angus M. Peyton, the owner of the 103,000-square foot building and president of ChemValley, received a letter March 8 from the state fire marshal's office declaring all tires should be gone within 30 days.

An attorney for U.S. Tire responded with a letter saying all remaining tires should be gone by June 23, but the fire started May 4.

Twelve days later, the state fire marshal's office announced that the fire was set on purpose.

Phone calls to Calwell and Carriger were not returned.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-855

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