ORANGE, Mass. (WWLP) – The Board of Health is warning the public of some debris from the fire at the former cereal factory in Orange that contains asbestos.

According to the Orange Board of Health, chemical testing conducted on the building before the fire found that the caulking around the windows contained some asbestos. The fire destroyed the vacant mill building on June 4th leaving debris at and around 16 West River Street.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection testing indicates that a limited amount of fire debris contains some asbestos. Residents are asked to contact the Town of Orange if they find debris believed to be from the factory fire to email gvoelker@townoforange.org to arrange for clean-up.

The Town of Orange also states if you have already cleaned up the debris and disposed of it, there is nothing further for you to do.

Mariann Herk lives down the street from where the fire happened and found debris on her lawn.

“Black smoke all over and a lot of flames and people saw the side of a building collapse,” she told 22News.

Herk plans to throw out that debris herself, but to clean up the site of the fire could cost roughly $4 million.

Jane Pierce the chair of the Orange Board of Selectmen and a member of the Board of Health, she said that would take up almost a fifth of the town’s budget.

“It would bankrupt us,” she told 22News. “We simply can’t do that, we would have to just leave it here covered forever…. particularly the legislators are trying to find money for us. Whether from ARPA or the state or federal budget or somewhere else.”

Three juveniles are being charged in connection with the fire in Orange that destroyed four buildings on Saturday.

According to State Fire Marshal’s Spokesperson Jake Wark, the youths, whose ages range between 12 and 14, were identified in the course of an ongoing investigation by local and state officials. Their names are not being released because of their age.

What is Asbestos

Asbestos is a naturally occurring, mostly fibrous mineral that has been used in a variety of building products and industrial settings over the years because of its resistance to heat, fire, and many caustic chemicals.

The physical properties that give asbestos its resistance to heat and decay are also linked with several adverse human health effects. Asbestos tends to break apart into a dust of microscopic fibers that remain suspended in the air for a long time. When inhaled, these fibers can cause:

  • Asbestosis, is a chronic lung condition that makes breathing progressively more difficult.
  • Cancer, most frequently in the lungs.
  • Mesothelioma, an incurable cancer of the chest and abdominal membranes.

Symptoms can take up to 40 years to develop, all can lead to death, and each exposure increases your risk.