Asbestos burned in Fairbanks debris fire

Posted: Wednesday, July 11, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Asbestos was present in a large debris fire set in Fairbanks last week, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The original demolition site from which the debris was removed also showed evidence of asbestos contamination.

The burned rubble included the remains of a structure. The fire was started Thursday afternoon by G Co., a construction firm that was burning piles of debris spread over about a half-acre.

According to Ann Lawton of the DEC, the amount of asbestos released in the demolition and the fire is not known.

''It's difficult to assess the public health threat at this time,'' she said. ''It's being handled as a serious violation.''

Lawton said high or prolonged levels of exposure are necessary for asbestos to cause health problems and that it is unlikely the amount released in the demolition and fire would affect the public. Lawton said the DEC is more worried about those who assisted in the demolition.

Fairbanks fire crews spotted smoke from the fire and doused the blaze, which took about four hours and 42,000 gallons of water.

Battalion Chief Alan Dick said the decision to extinguish it had to do with fire permit violations and the suspicion of prohibited materials in the fire.

Lab results received Monday confirmed that the asbestos, which can cause breathing problems, lung scarring or even lung cancer in large quantities, had been released.

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