NEW CUMBERLAND - The owner of a fireworks stand in Chester that caught fire June 23 has pleaded not guilty to two counts of illegal possession of fireworks.
Russell "Chip" Kohser, of Monaca, Pa., entered the plea before Hancock County Magistrate Michael W. Powell this week. Kohser, who appeared without an attorney, waived the reading of the charges, which are misdemeanors.
A hearing has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Oct. 2, and an investigator with the West Virginia State Fire Marshal has been subpoenaed.
Kohser was charged after his fireworks stand, set up in front of Shorty's Place Bar & Grill on U.S. Route 30, caught fire, igniting the fireworks and damaging the siding on the bar.
The impromptu fireworks show that resulted stopped traffic on Route 30 and was captured on several YouTube.com videos. Investigators believe the fire was caused by a short in an extension cord being used to run the lights in the stand.
Kohser previously had sold fireworks at Stateline Feed & Country Store, which he closed in January. This was the first year for the stand in front of Shorty's.
Authorities said Kohser was selling fireworks prohibited in West Virginia, including fireworks that go airborne and give a loud report.
If convicted, Kohser could be fined up to $100 and sentenced to 90 days in jail on each count.