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Whitsell mill fire debris could contain asbestos

The Lane Regional Air Protection Agency collected samples that have tested negative for asbestos but they can't guarantee all of the ash will be safe.

Posted: Jun 1, 2018 6:57 PM

SAGINAW, Ore. -- Health officials are warning about possible dangers from debris from the Whitsell mill fire in Saginaw. Employees at the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency are concerned the ash and debris could contain asbestos.

They've collected samples that have tested negative for asbestos, but they can't guarantee all of the ash will be safe. They're warning residents who live south and southwest of the fire, in the direct line of the smoke, to use caution when handling the debris.

“It's an older building, and we want to be cautious,” said Jo Niehaus of the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency. “There could be asbestos in some of the debris. That's why we went ahead and tested some of the samples. We are really happy to see the samples came back negative, but at the same time, we can't be 100 percent sure that 100 percent of the materials are free from asbestos."

If you see debris, wet down the material to make sure fibers don't break off and become airborne, officials say. Wear gloves and place debris into plastic bags. Then, double bag it and throw it in the trash.

The fire destroyed the Saginaw mill Sunday night, doing millions of dollars in damage. The cause of the blaze remains under investigation. 

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