Demolition of burned Tustin hangar underway; low asbestos levels

The charred remains of a World War II airship hangar in Tustin are being razed as air quality officials rate asbestos levels nearby as “below any level of concern,” while continuing to urge neighbors to take safety precautions.

The massive wooden military relic caught fire on Nov. 7, dumping ash and debris (later found to contain asbestos) onto nearby residential neighborhoods.

The 17-story hangar burned for more than a week and residents have struggled to get information about the impact on air quality and air pollutants, including when debris will be removed from their properties. While the property is owned by the Navy, a combination of government agencies have been involved in the shooting and after the fire, including the Orange County Fire Authority and the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

“Our biggest frustration in general is that there’s just no one in charge,” nearby resident Jeff Lawrence told the Times.

Deconstruction of the hangar should be completed in a day or two, Tustin officials said Saturday. Plans call for extinguishing all remaining hotspots of the fire, using heavy equipment excavators to remove debris and clear roads so tankers can reach all hangar areas.

Trucks equipped with nozzles and hoses will be used for fire suppression and dust reduction throughout the process. The hangar doors and their supporting concrete pillars will be stabilized and left in place for the time being.

“Since monitoring began, all particulate matter smoke and fire data at community sites are well below any level of concern,” the city said in a statement. “Asbestos sampling data received to date is also well below any level of concern.”

Most schools in the area have been cleared for on-campus instruction, but some are still being inspected by asbestos consultants, the Tustin Unified School District said Sunday on its website.

Most public parks are open, but Centennial Park and Veterans Sports Park will remain closed until further notice, parks officials said.

The Orange County Health Care Agency recommends that people who believe their neighborhood has been affected by fire debris take precautions such as keeping doors and windows closed and not using air conditioning systems that draw in outside air. Avoid activities that displace fire-related debris, such as sweeping, blowing leaves, mowing, and yard work.

The city blocks where fire debris was collected are shown on a map on the city’s website.

Times staff writer Hannah Fry contributed to this report.

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