Fire burning what’s left of Tustin hangar could stall abatement. Schools remain closed

On the heels of efforts to launch a cleanup at the historic Tustin hangar that went up in flames last week, releasing asbestos and other toxic substances into the air, the fire reignited Sunday and was expected to burn through the night.

Abatement efforts Monday will have to be reevaluated because of the reinvigorated fire, Tustin Police Lt. Ryan Coe told The Times. Personnel with the Orange County Fire Authority and the city’s Police Department were set to monitor the site overnight.

“Obviously, if there is an active fire, with ash coming down, there’s no reason to do abatement only to have to do it again a day later,” Coe said.

Meanwhile, all Tustin schools remained shuttered Monday, with facilities set to be cleaned of debris possibly contaminated with asbestos.

An environmental consulting firm was retained, the city’s school district said, to test all schools for contamination stemming from the fire.

Some campuses could reopen Tuesday once testing has been completed.

Fire at the hangar had flared up Saturday night and again Sunday night.

Coe said late Sunday that the hangar’s west wall, which didn’t previously have substantial fire damage, was aflame. “We anticipate there is a likelihood that will burn through the night and potentially bring down that west wall,” he said.

The north hangar was one of two enormous structures on the property, 17 stories high, 1,000 feet long and 300 feet wide, that were used by the military during World War II and later served as sets for the TV show “Star Trek” and the film “Pearl Harbor.” It was the largest wooden structure in the world, Coe said.

The hangar caught fire Tuesday, creating a spectacle for drivers passing by.

Coe said Sunday that firefighters were currently in a “strictly defensive posture” because of ongoing danger.

“The remaining structure standing is unstable. We still can’t go inside of it to cool it down,” he said. “We definitely don’t want to do any water drops — a big force that would push more stuff in the air.”

Rain is expected to fall on the site in coming days, however. Coe said the expected weather would aid fire crews’ efforts.

“The particles in the air will settle down, which is a good thing,” he said. The rain will help “rinse off and wash off the ash in areas. And obviously from the fire-suppression side, it’s a good thing.”

Structural and demolition experts had begun examining the structure Sunday to determine the next steps, Coe said. Additionally, abatement and remediation teams began cleaning affected public rights-of-way north of the hangar.

After air quality experts discovered asbestos at the site, the Tustin Unified School District closed all campuses Thursday.

The city also closed several public parks and canceled a planned Veterans Day celebration over health concerns stemming from possible contamination.

Original News Source Link – LA Times

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