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Poison SMOKE FEAR

PUBLISHED: 11:46 01 October 2009 | UPDATED: 17:13 25 August 2010

A MASSIVE plume of potentially poisonous smoke hung over homes as firefighters tackled a blaze at a derelict building. Forty firefighters from Bexley, Erith, Plumstead and Eltham struggled for four hours to control a fire at the old Dussek Campbell Linfo

A MASSIVE plume of potentially poisonous smoke hung over homes as firefighters tackled a blaze at a derelict building.

Forty firefighters from Bexley, Erith, Plumstead and Eltham struggled for four hours to control a fire at the old Dussek Campbell Linford site in Thames Road, Crayford, on Tuesday where chiefs confirmed a quantity of asbestos had been set alight.

An exclusion zone was set up from 2.35pm as firefighters feared an explosion after finding one propane and six oxygen cylinders at the site.

Residents at the scene were worried about the possibility of airborne asbestos particles - which have been proven to cause fatal respiratory conditions.

Steven Spiers, 18, of Mayplace Avenue, Crayford said: "You hear a lot of stories about old lads suffering from working near asbestos and it seems to be that once it gets you it doesn't go away.

"There was a lot of disruption and people were finding it hard to get home but that could be the least of our worries.

"The fire brigade know what they are doing though and in this situation you just have to trust them."

Jamie Bates, 32, who lives opposite the building, added: "There are a lot of kids round here and hopefully any thing dangerous that was alight was just a small amount and I know a pregnant woman lives on this row.

"Firefighters do a great job though and they are a crowd that you can trust so hopefully they have covered every scenario."

A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said that in all cases involving old or derelict buildings there was a risk that asbestos would be present.

The spokesperson added: "Asbestos is something that we always take into consideration in buildings like that and there was an unknown quantity alight at the incident.

"The safety of our fire fighters and the public is of paramount importance and the risks will have been fully assessed and the appropriate action taken."

Asbestos exposure can increase the risk of contracting malignant mesothelioma or lung cancer.

According to asbestos experts, fire can release asbestos from materials and drafts can spread it through the air.

Once the fire has been put out, it is recommended that contaminated areas are kept clear and wet until all materials are removed and nearby residents should keep all windows and doors closed to prevent exposure.

Firefighters are fully trained to dispose of asbestos debris safely using protective clothing and breathing equipment.

A spokesman for Bexley council said: "The fire brigade didn't highlight the need for any environmental health officers and that would indicate that it was just a minimal amount that posed a minor risk.

"There are several types of asbestos and the one that is contained in concrete doesn't pose as great a risk as the other types although it still has to be treated with respect."

fintan.quinn@archant.co.uk


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