Council's advice over possibility of asbestos in Kettering fire

A shop which went up in flames in Kettering may have had materials containing asbestos inside.

But Kettering Council say the health risk posed by any contamination from the blaze at Kettering Bedding Centre on Monday (May 13) is low.

Flames tore through the building. Picture by Alison Bagley.

Flames tore through the building. Picture by Alison Bagley.

The store in Regent Street was gutted in the fire at about 12.30, with ash filling the air as concerned residents watched on from behind a cordon. Emergency service workers wore protective masks.

READ MORE: Kettering shop owner fled burning building
In health advice issued today (Friday) Kettering Council, who are in control of the building's safety after fire crews left the scene, said there is unlikely to be any significant exposure to asbestos following a fire involving asbestos containing materials (ACM).

A council spokesman said: "There is no evidence so far of any contamination outside of the building and Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue advise that any potential spread is likely to be over a limited area, if at all.

"During fires, ACM may become damaged and depending on the ferocity of the fire, fragments of ACM can be spread by the fire.

Smoke could be seen across the town.

Smoke could be seen across the town.

"Any contamination is of no significant health concern as asbestos fibres are held tightly within the body of cement products and consequently the fibres are not readily released into the air during a fire.

"Therefore, it is important to realise that the risks to health are low and there is unlikely to be any significant exposure to asbestos following fires involving ACM.

"The site involved in this fire may have an asbestos-cement roof and it is possible that these materials may have been released in the smoke plume and deposited in ash or

debris on nearby properties and streets and over the vicinity.

READ MORE: Kettering shop gutted by fire
"However, this is of no particular health concern as asbestos fibres are not readily released from asbestos containing material into the air."

The spokesman said it was important to reassure people but 'sensible' that any debris is removed to minimise exposure.

In a letter sent to nearby residents, the council said: "If it is absolutely necessary to move or remove debris yourself (e.g. from a car windscreen), first damp down the debris using water, and either gently flush away small particles to the drain or, wearing protective gloves to prevent scratches, pick up larger pieces carefully, place them within two plastic bags (double bag with one bag inside the other), and seal and dispose of at your local household waste recycling centre (tip).

"Do not sweep up or vacuum debris as this could create airborne dust.

READ MORE: Evacuated families coming to terms with Kettering fire aftermath
"If there is evidence of debris in the garden you should avoid mowing the lawn until it has been cleared up and removed."

Anyone experiencing any symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, watery eyes or coughing as a result of the fire should contact their GP or NHS 111 as appropriate.

Kettering Council is arranging a survey and, if required, a clean-up of any ACM spread by the fire which may have fallen as ash and debris over the surrounding area and been deposited nearby properties, gardens and streets, in conjunction with the premises’ insurers.

READ MORE: Community response to Kettering fire 'fantastic'