Frankfort, New York - At 1:30 PM on Wednesday afternoon a fire broke out at the former Union Fork and Hoe Company in Frankfort, New York, in the Mohawk Valley Region of the state. Fire officials report that no one was injured during the blaze or containment.
However, a much larger, more ominous force lingers over the destroyed factory. Sold in 2005 to Ames True Temper, the site that formerly manufactured hoes and other garden products, was under going a thorough asbestos abatement process. At the time of the fire, removing asbestos from the site was well under way and was done so in conjunction with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
According to a report in the Observer-Dispatch, a DEC spokesperson said, “Asbestos abatement has been under way for almost a month and was near completion.”
Typically, asbestos abatement is one of the primary steps to any renovation or demolition of a building or structure of this vintage. The former factory was scheduled for demolition as soon as the end of August.
Asbestos abatement crews had not removed all of the carcinogenic material from the former factory, and now area residents are concerned about what exactly was in the smoke.
Frankfort Mayor Frank Moracco reiterated this concern and said, “Obviously, a building, a factory this old, I'm sure with the roof and a lot of the materials inside is going to have some type of chemical involved in it that may be a hazard to a lot of people.”
What is known is that the former factory did contain asbestos, and only if the material is disturbed in anyway, such as is during a fire, does it become dangerous. Smoke can carry miniscule asbestos particles making it easier for people in the air to breathe in.
The smoke from this fire was enormous and could be seen as far away as 6 miles.
Asbestos exposure is the leading proponent of deadly diseases like mesothelioma cancer and lung cancer.
At this time, the immediate area around the fire or areas that could be affected by the potentially toxic plume have not been evacuated, and it appears that no such orders will be in play.
Assistant Chief Matt Palumbo said, “The asbestos is potentially hazardous to the firefighters only.”