Hazmat crews search homes burned by Detwiler Fire for toxic chemicals

MARIPOSA COUNTY, Calif. - Following the Detwiler Fire, environmental and haz mat crews are now in Mariposa County inspecting the aftermath, checking the burned down homes for any toxins.

"That foundation is built out of just mortar and slate," David Fiester, a homeowner, said.

It's been nearly three weeks since the Detwiler Fire started. Fiester said he's blessed he still has his home, even though the fire line got dangerously close. Unfortunately, the house next door to his, although it was vacant, belonged to his family and full of personal belongings.

"I feel sad that we lost this place," Fiester said.

All that's left is a charred lot full of melted debris and ash, which could be full of toxic hazards.

"We look for, see these chimney flues, we commonly find asbestos inside of those," Adam Palmer, senior environmental scientist, said.

Monday, crews from The California Department of Toxic Substances Control started inspecting homes destroyed by the Detwiler Fire.

"We come in with a certified asbestos consultant, assess and remove all the asbestos, then we have our haz mat crews come in same time, shortly after the asbestos is removed and remove all the household hazardous waste," Palmer said.

Household hazardous waste like cleaning solutions, paints, gasoline and propane tanks. These are things environmental crews said are typically in garages and backyards. Crews say when burned in a fire, they could be potentially dangerous to your health and the environment.

"We don't want a lot of this material going airborne and we surely don't want it to run off to streams and rivers once the wet season starts," Palmer said.

Crews expect to be out in Mariposa County for the next two week inspecting the homes. Then Calrecycle will start removing non-hazardous debris.


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