Concerns have been expressed by residents of a Sandwell market town over the potential health implications of asbestos released into the air as a consequence of a blaze near their homes.
As reported by the Black Country Mail, a fire broke out on the night of Tuesday 12th March at the derelict Manor High School site in Friar Park Road, Wednesbury, forcing the attendance of about 50 firefighters from West Midlands Fire Service.
However, asbestos fragments are said to have drifted from the school during the fire, albeit away from instead of towards nearby properties.
“A tremendous amount of concern”
The newspaper said that some local residents were worried for their safety and felt they had not been adequately informed about the incident.
One person living close to the fire was quoted as saying: “There is a tremendous amount of concern about the fire at the School on Friar Park Road. There is an enormous amount of asbestos in that building and the council need specialists in to act now.
“The heavy rain at the moment was a saving grace but we have gale force winds forecast for the next few days, which does not bear thinking about. The building needs containing in some way by specialists.”
Council bosses move to calm residents
Chiefs at Sandwell Council have played down the concerns, however, reassuring those living near the fire that any asbestos fibres would have drifted away from their homes.
A council spokesman stated: “We have spoken to the fire service who have reassured us that any asbestos fibres from the material of the building would have been carried away from houses due to the wind direction.
“Long-term health effects resulting from being near fires where asbestos containing materials were present is very low. People were told to keep their windows closed as a precaution.
“There is no need to panic and there is no asbestos that requires cleaning up anywhere outside the school site.”
He added that the land had been fenced off and residents were advised against going onto the land for any reason while an investigation into the cause of the fire was still underway.
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