Fire At Tustin, CA Hanger Exposes Community to Asbestos

Fire At Tustin, CA Hanger Exposes Community to Asbestos

In a recent incident in the Tustin, Ca. community, a hangar fire erupted, posing a threat to the health and safety of residents. The alarming factor is that the fire’s aftermath exposed residents to asbestos, endangering their health and safety.

The 17-story wooden WWII hangar, located on a former military base and owned by the Navy, caught fire on November 7, 2023. Despite efforts to control the blaze, the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) deemed it too dangerous, and allowed the hangar to burn. Two days later,  the EPA confirmed that debris from the fire tested positive for asbestos and other dangerous chemicals. Data revealed that debris reached schools and homes within a three-mile radius. Several residents reported health issues and took matters into their own hands, spending thousands on testing and remediation efforts. The fire reignited multiple times before it was finally extinguished on December 1, 2023.

With emergency declarations from the city and county, and with the Navy providing funding, the hangar’s incident management team has progressed in debris mitigation. Taking measures to avert the potential spread of hazardous materials, authorities have implemented a careful “controlled process” to dismantle the hangar doors on Wednesday. While the city continues outdoor debris cleanup in residential areas, the responsibility for hangar remediation now rests with the Navy. Mayor Austin Lumbard emphasizes the need for the Navy to assume financial responsibility, stressing that residents should not bear the associated costs.

Residents in the vicinity of the Tustin, Ca. hangar fire are understandably concerned about the potential health implications of asbestos exposure. It is crucial for individuals who may have been exposed to monitor their health closely and seek medical attention if they experience symptoms such as persistent coughing, shortness of breath, or chest pain in the future.  The latency period between initial asbestos exposure and disease development can span decades. Early detection and intervention can improve outcomes for those affected by asbestos-related illnesses.

Residents, frustrated with the lack of clear guidance and financial assistance are calling on the Navy to step up. Mayor Lumbard and California Assembly member Cottie Petrie-Norris requested assistance from Governor Gavin Newsom and federal agencies, urging the expansion of cleanup efforts and the creation of a fund for residents to claim expenses.

The city-contracted Innovative Emergency Management is preparing for hangar door removal, with the Navy expected to take over the process. The Navy spokesperson mentions ongoing negotiations for additional funding and a potential inter-agency solution for assisting affected families.

The Tustin, Ca. hangar fire serves as a reminder of the hidden dangers that can persist in our communities, especially when it comes to asbestos exposure. As local residents remain concerned about their health and safety, it is essential for authorities to act swiftly, implement robust mitigation measures, and engage in transparent communication with the affected community.  If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos and is now suffering from lung cancer or mesothelioma, contact us today for a free consultation.

Sources:
González, David “Month after Tustin hangar fire, residents and city leaders frustrated with lack of transparency” ABC 7 (December 6, 2023) [Link]
Olmos, Anastassia “Tustin hangar doors coming down as officials work to remediate asbestos exposure” KTLA 5 (December 6, 2023) [Link]
“Raging fire destroys massive World War II-era blimp hangar in Southern California” Associated Press (November 7, 2023) [Link]
Slaten, Michael “Tustin hangar fire is completely out, authorities say as cleanup continues” The Orange County Register” (December 14, 2023)  [Link]
Soto, Missael “Tustin hangar fire declared fully extinguished 24 days later” NBC Los Angeles (December 1, 2023) [Link]
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