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Asbestos Fear After Factory Arson

Asbestos was released into the air in Coventry last night after arsonists set fire to a store at a clothing company.

The building at Astley’s in Gosford Street was ignited around 7.30pm. Seven fire crews from Coventry, Birmingham and Solihull were called.

Initially firefighters believed that the building was used to store asbestos. It was later discovered that boards with asbestos fibre were contained in it.

Because of the health risk residents in an old people’s home were told to stay indoors and close their windows.

Many of the fire crew had to wear breathing apparatus and chemical protection suits, which had to be de-contaminated later.

ADO Jim Onions of West Midlands Fire Service said the crews, who were at the scene for over 12 hours, used their training to make sure the asbestos didn’t spread.

He said:

“We had to use enough water to stop the dust rising, but to too much so it didn’t have to wash the asbestos down the drains.

“There was a lot of smoke and the asbestos meant we had to be very careful.”

No-one was injured during the blaze, but ADO Onions confirmed that the fire had been started deliberately.

Cllr Dave Nellist (Socialist, St Michael’s) said he had asked for a report on the levels of asbestos that has escaped into the atmosphere in case his constituents in the ward needed health or safety advice.

Anyone with information about the fire should call police on 024 7653 9010 or Crimestopppers on 0800 555111.

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CWN / Crimes, Fires & Accidents / 20 Jul 00

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This page modified on 10 November 2008 09:49:15AM