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Published: Monday, 9/16/2002

Cleanup advances at pallet company

HOYTVILLE, Ohio - The cleanup is progressing at a sprawling pallet business where two large fires raged during the summer.

Wood County health officials planned last month to try to get a temporary restraining order against Brumbaugh Pallets on State Rt. 235 just south of Hoytville after the second fire, but officials delayed the legal action after owner Fred Brumbaugh committed suicide.

Brad Espen, director of environmental services for the Wood County Health Department, said that since Mr. Brumbaugh's death Aug. 13 he has been working with Mr. Brumbaugh's son, Tom, on efforts to clean up the five-acre site.

“We're progressing, I would say, at a steady pace,” Mr. Espen said, adding that he does not believe it will be necessary to take the matter to court. “The reason for the court action was basically to stop the acceptance of pallets and to take a step back and assess things.''

Fred Brumbaugh, who ran the business for nearly 38 years with his wife, had been working with health officials to clean up scrap metal and junk pallets at his business in the months following the first fire May 6.

On Aug. 9, Mr. Brumbaugh began burning debris in a pit when the fire spread to the tall piles of pallets nearby, again creating a huge fire.

Firefighters from nearly a dozen area departments hauled in water and scrambled to put out the blaze, which could be seen from 20 miles away.

Mr. Espen said Tom Brumbaugh has been removing scrap metal from the site and is getting quotes on having the remaining pallets recycled and removed.

Mr. Espen also is working with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to get state funding for the cleanup effort.

“I'm trying to find all the avenues I can to help the family out,” he said.

Mr. Espen said he does not believe the Brumbaugh family intends to continue operating the business once the health and safety issues are resolved.

Tom Brumbaugh could not be reached for comment.

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