Air quality results to be released as crews continue warehouse fire probe

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Results of an air quality test conducted by the Marion County Health Department are expected to be released Wednesday, as crews continue their investigation into a fire that destroyed a west side warehouse building. 

The Indianapolis Fire Department said hot spots continue to flare following Saturday’s fire at 220 S. Belmont Avenue, but officials said the small spot fires and smoke are being kept to a minimum.

As a precaution and concern for toxic fumes, the MCHD took samples to determine the quality of air in the area. Officials said the investigation could take a slower pace if sample results require investigators to use a respirator while at the scene.

“We want to make sure the investigators are operating in a safe environment and as part of our joint task force operation, those test results are going to be vital on whether or not we need everybody in and out of that operation to maybe wear a half piece face respirator or a full scab,” said IFD spokesperson Rita Burris.

Investigators did announce the results of an asbestos test conducted at the site.  Asbestos was found in the debris pile, but the initial testing indicated levels of it were well below the acceptable exposure limits, said officials.

Due to the findings, investigators and other crew members will wear protective suits, goggles and breathing apparatuses while at the scene.  They will also limit crews to spending 20 minutes in the debris at one time.

Twenty members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) National Response Taskforce arrived in the city to assist in the investigation. IFD officials said investigators are in the information gathering phase and are forming a strategy on how to effectively process the scene.

“They are from all over the country and have different specialties that they bring to the table, along with resources and equipment,” said Burris on the ATF members.

Fox59 was told crews could remain on the scene for up to a week to 10 days at minimum. Officials said crews are working in four-hour, rotating shifts in order to keep firefighters and investigators hydrated and rehabbed.

Sixty percent of the building collapsed due to the fire. Officials said the investigation will be very labor intensive as crews work to clear debris piles.

Authorities are urging the public to send in any photos or videos they may have taken of the warehouse fire Saturday. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS.

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