Asbestos Concerns Continue After Deadly Apartment Fire
A fire that killed two women in Westminster, Colorado about 10 days ago is still causing plenty of angst for those who live in the neighborhood. That’s because there was an abundance of asbestos on the property and it may still be lurking on the premises.
People living near those units that caught fire in the late July blaze have seen asbestos warning signs go up around the perimeter of the complex, and a letter from the local fire chief to residents confirmed the presence of the toxic mineral.
The letter also confirmed that toxic smoke and debris permeated the air that night and is likely still on site.
“I knew the night of the fire … that we have asbestos in the walls,” resident Sierra Shears recently told Fox 31 News, confirming that she and others are following the rules and staying away from the apartment complex, despite the fact that their belongings remain there.
In the meantime, city leaders confirm that testing was ordered to be completed at the location.
“We’ve heard the testing has been done,” said Laura Shumpert, spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “We don’t have any confirmation yet that it’s been done.”
Until testing is complete, Fox 31 reports, state health investigators have refused to talk to the media about the investigation. The tests, they say, should give officials a better idea of the scope of the problem and how to handle abatement of the toxic material.
The units that caught fire were indeed constructed after the 1970s federal asbestos regulations were issued but it’s important to remember that this particular ban did not outlaw all asbestos.
Many building products containing asbestos were still in use at the time and some are still in use today.
The United States government continues to avoid a total ban on asbestos, despite the efforts of previous administrations. That means individuals will continue to be at risk in a number of scenarios, including when buildings containing asbestos burn.
This is why firefighters are amongst those most likely to develop asbestosis or mesothelioma due to on-the-job exposure, though fires at properties containing asbestos put everyone in the vicinity at risk for exposure.