The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

June 25, 2013

Official: Fireworks didn’t damage W.Va. Capitol

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Capitol’s gold dome didn’t sustain any damage from thousands of fireworks that were shot over it during the state’s 150th anniversary celebration, the head of the state’s sesquicentennial celebration said.

The three-night pyrotechnics display left pieces of cardboard shells that contained the fireworks rounds on the dome and sidewalks around the Capitol. But inspections by the Division of General Services and Zambelli Fireworks on Sunday didn’t find any damage, Chelsea Ruby, executive director of the West Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission, told media outlets.

“What I’ve been told is that there is some dirt. There’s some stuff that needs to be washed away, but that there’s no real damage,” Ruby said.

“They’re just pieces of cardboard,” she said.

Zambelli Fireworks conducted the fireworks shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Ruby said the company bought a multimillion-dollar insurance policy to cover any damage when it booked the show at the Capitol Complex.

Joe Mullins, a sculptor and artist, said he was concerned that the fireworks might have damaged the gold leaf on the dome.

“The melting point of gold is 1,947 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat produced by fireworks is in the range of 3,600 degrees,” said Mullins, who has worked with gold leaf, and molten gold and bronze.

He said he saw some fireworks shots hit the dome.

“When I saw it, I was incredulous. I thought, ‘I can’t believe they were doing that,’” Mullins said.

If there is any damage, it would take a couple of years to manifest itself, as copper exposed to the elements by missing pieces of gold leaf begins causing dark stains on the dome, he said.

The entire Capitol Complex campus will be assessed this week to determine whether the celebration caused any damage, Department of Administration spokeswoman Diane Holley-Brown said. Similar assessments are conducted after every major event.

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