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Burnt Building Partially Collapses in NH Causing Asbestos Scare

According to a recent news report in the Union Leader, part of building that was heavily damaged in a fire last summer has collapsed, resulting in an asbestos exposure scare.  This building was the site of a June 2016 fire that killed four people.

construction siteWhen the fire broke out, it was in the overnight hours, and the entire family of four tragically died.  The classic New England three-decker, as they are often called, was left a burnt out shell of its former self.  It has been abandoned since the fire and has been slated for demolition for several months.  However, a Massachusetts-based asbestos abatement firm had recently begun work to remove all the deadly asbestos material so that major demolition work could be completed as soon as possible.  As our Boston asbestos injury lawyers can explain, when a property owner has reason to believe that his or her building contains asbestos and plans to do any renovation or demolition work that could disturb those deadly asbestos fibers, state and federal law requires that a certain protocol be followed.

This asbestos abatement protocol begins with an inspection by a licensed inspector.  When he or she sends a sample to a materials testing lab and the presence of asbestos is confirmed via microscopy, landowner must work with a certified asbestos abatement contractor to create an asbestos abatement plan, and that plan must be approved by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP).  The asbestos abatement plan must also be allowed under all federal regulations as enforced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In this case, one corner of the building came crashing to the street without warning.  This created a great of deal of concern.  The building was fenced off, and there were large signs that warned that asbestos abatement was ongoing and all personnel were required to wear proper protective equipment, including NIOSH approved respirators.

Witnesses said that when the building unexpectedly collapsed, it sounded like a dump truck dropping a load of debris.  This was an apt description, because the collapse sent a cloud of dust into the air, and the streets and sidewalks were covered with a layer of this dust.  However, construction representatives and city officials say they are not very worried about asbestos exposure, because must of the asbestos material in this building was in the siding and not this dust that was blanketing the area.   While this may be true, it is understandable why neighbors were concerned.

One positive note is that it was raining at the time of the collapse.  The reason this is beneficial is because when asbestos dust is wet, it is less likely to fly out into the air at the first gust of wind.  When asbestos abatement workers remove the deadly fibers that can cause malignant mesothelioma from a building, they will wet that material to prevent it from emitting as much dust.  This occurred naturally to some extent because of the rain that had been falling when the asbestos-laden building collapsed.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Part of building that was site of fatal fire collapses into Manchester’s Wilson Street, April 26, 2017, By mark Hayward, Union Leader

More Blog Entries:
Treating Mesothelioma and Other Asbestos-Related Cancers, Feb. 14, 2017, Boston Asbestos Exposure Attorney Blog