The fire was out by the time Wheeling Postmaster Randy Link reached the McMechen Post Office on Jan. 26, but the damage had been done.
After being notified of the blaze about 3 p.m., Link traveled to McMechen where he found the fire had been put out, but smoke and water damage had rendered the post office unsuitable for use. The U.S. Postal Service officially suspended services at McMechen Post Office that same day.
Tad Kelley, a postal service public affairs communications specialist for West Virginia and Pennsylvania, said the damage forced officials to move McMechen's postal services to the Benwood Post Office, located at 401 McMechen St., Benwood.
"It was significantly unsafe for employees and customers," Kelley said.
Customer service window hours at the Benwood facility are 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday. Lobby hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.
McMechen customers with post office boxes can pick up their mail at the Benwood Post Office, and delivery services will be maintained.
According to Link, no postal service employees were laid off due to the temporary closure. He said McMechen workers continue to serve their customers alongside Benwood employees, and McMechen customers can utilize full services there.
Kelley said no timeline has been determined for if and when the McMechen Post Office will reopen, but the facility will resume operations as quickly as possible once the building - which does not belong to the USPS - is deemed safe.
"The McMechen Post Office was a leased facility," Link said. "It's up to the landlord to make repairs. We're waiting for them to notify us."
Link declined to identify the landlord.
As the building's owners continue to assess the damage and make repairs, the USPS said there are no plans to close the office permanently.
"I realize with change there is always concern," said Manager of Operations Programs Support Donald Snyder in a letter to customers dated Jan. 28. "A decision to permanently discontinue operations at the McMechen Post Office has not been made."
Members of the McMechen Volunteer Fire Department referred all questions regarding the fire to 1st Assistant Chief Mark Martin, who was the officer in charge of the scene. Martin could not be reached for comment Friday.