Fire debris from Van Buren warehouse blaze tests positive for asbestos

Neighbors concerned for health, safety

INDIANAPOLIS - Some of the debris samples collected in the aftermath of Sunday's warehouse fire have tested positive for asbestos, health department officials said.

The contaminated debris was found in a residential area west of the fire scene and was limited to a small number of houses in the 1300 block of East Calhoun Street.

The Marion County Public Health Department was in the area Wednesday to clean up the debris and help spread the message to neighbors around the area.

Neighbors were concerned about the risks associated with asbestos.

“Pretty scary knowing that asbestos is bad, and when it gets airborne, it makes people sick and I have asthma," neighbor Tonda Carter said.

Officials said the charred remnants of the building were similar to what they found in June after the warehouse fire on Belmont Avenue.

“You've got building materials, you've got roofing, you've got plastics, you've got all this stuff just burning and it doesn't burn completely, so the incomplete combustion that particulates, that's when you see the black stuff and you see all these gases," Jeffrey Larmore with the Marion Co. Public Health Department said.

Health officials said the debris from the Belmont fire tested positive for mesothelioma-causing asbestos, and experts expect similar results for the Van Buren fire.

The health department will return Thursday to collect more debris.

The fire broke out about 9 p.m. Sunday at the abandoned warehouse at 1545 E. Van Buren St., and occupied fire crews for about 15 hours.

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