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Asbestos Debris a Concern after Indianapolis Warehouse Fire

Marion County, Indiana public health officials have announced that debris left behind after a four-alarm warehouse fire in the city’s Near Eastside neighborhood contains asbestos, a declaration that alarmed many area residents.

According to an article in the Indianapolis Star, fire inspectors told the press that some debris from the blaze on the 1500 block of Van Buren Street was found a few blocks away, and suspicions about its contents led the department to test it for the presence of the carcinogen. Department spokesman Curt Brantingham said samples taken from rubble that had made its way to the 1300 block of Calhoun Street, down the street from where the fire happened, did indeed test positive for asbestos.

All of the positive samples were found within the same one-block radius, Brantingham said, adding that he believed the presence of the asbestos materials did not pose “an immediate risk” to the residents, stressing, however, that people need to stay away from the debris and shouldn’t attempt to remove it.

“… if people were to move it, disturb it,” he said, “it could make some of the particles go into the air.”

Most of what was found, the article notes, appears to be dark-colored tar-like substances, most likely some sort of roofing material.

As an added precaution, the article noted, Indianapolis public health officials are going door-to-door in the Near Eastside neighboring, posting notices and warning residents of the presence of asbestos and educating them on the dangers of asbestos exposure. Inhaling the tiny fibers can cause a variety of ailments, ranging from breathing difficulties to a serious form of cancer known as mesothelioma.