On the morning of 14 February, fire services were called to Stainburn Road in Cumbria due to a barn fire. Local residents in Workington and Stainburn were warned to keep their windows and doors closed as the building was believed to contain asbestos.
Fortunately, a Cumbria Police spokesperson has since said there is no longer a need for Cumbrian residents to keep their doors and windows closed, stating: “A precautionary warning was issued but the fire has since been scaled down and assessed as there being no threat to members of the public.
“Members of the public were advised to close windows and doors as a precautionary measure, and not to disturb any ash or deposits that may settle on the ground.”
Public Health England North West have advised that health risks are low, stating: “There is no direct evidence of long-term health risks from fires involving asbestos containing materials.”
Thanks to the fire services, no injuries have yet been reported following the fire, but of great concern in this incident was the threat of exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos: Where is the Danger?
Sadly there was a need for such caution when it was revealed the barn in question may contain asbestos. When disturbed, asbestos dust and fibres pose a severe health risk if inhaled, and so the fire and debris afterwards could potentially have been hazardous to those living in the near area – not to mention any dust carried by the wind.
It is a relief that health officials have declared a low risk, but when it comes to exposure to asbestos any amount can be dangerous, and is certainly a cause for closing doors and windows in such a situation.
Asbestos was once used in commercial buildings, among many other places, often for insulation due to its natural properties. However, since the discovery of its carcinogenic effects, asbestos has since been made illegal, though it may still be found in many buildings built as recently as 1999.
Helen Wilson is a principal lawyer at the Slater and Gordon offices in Manchester, specialising in cases of chest and asbestos diseases.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers have a specialist team of asbestos compensation solicitors that deal with asbestos claims on a No Win No Fee basis. For a free consultation call freephone 0800 884 0275 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help you.