Local schools were closed and health officials suggested residents in Tustin, California, stay indoors after officials confirmed asbestos was found in ash and debris emanating from a fire that destroyed a massive and historic military hangar.
Orange County officials declared a local state of emergency Thursday night due to the danger posed by the air pollution from the fire, which besides asbestos, a carcinogen, was found to contain lead, arsenic, nickel and other heavy metals.
The pollution alert, from the South Coast Air Quality Management District came two days after a fire began to engulf one of two World War II-era hangars in the now-defunct Marine Corps Air Station in Tustin, sending large plumes of smoke into the air. Extensive portions collapsed as flames devoured the large, mostly wooden structure, which reached 17 stories high and 1,000 feet long.
Late Wednesday night, Tustin Unified School District Supt. Mark Johnson said that because of concerns about asbestos coming from the fire, school officials had decided to shut down local campuses. The decision came after a nighttime conference call with local agencies, including the AQMD, Johnson said in an email to parents, which was later posted on the district's website.
In the call, health officials confirmed debris in the area tested higher than 1% positive for asbestos.
“With student and staff safety being our highest priority and in collaboration with the City of…