Site Swept Clean; Lost Money Not Recovered
The March 1-2 fire at the Gateway Building is a memory but not without lessons.
The fire site’s cleanup at Humphrey and Redington Streets ended without tests of any air samples detecting excessive asbestos, the fire chief said.
Cleanup crews scooped the last bucket of fire debris Wednesday and dumped the last load of fill in the cellar hole Thursday.
All air samples tested 1,000 times under the threshold for asbestos standards during the debris removal, Fire Chief Kevin Breen said.
The department monitored the cleanup and air samples closely knowing that the presence of asbestos — bound up in an adhesives— concerned a lot of people, he said.
The charred remnants yielded no clues to how the fire started nor did the rubble removal turn up any treasure.
The fire chief thinks the fire started in the basement, but its cause will most likely remain undetermined.
During the cleanup, crews were on the lookout for a box with several thousand dollars that had been stashed in a bureau in a second-floor apartment.
A friend of one of the tenants was at the scene early in the cleanup and had asked crews and the fire chief to keep an eye out for the box.
“They were looking to see if they could get it for the owner,” the fire chief said.
No one found the box or any other treasure, the fire chief said.
The fire, however, did offer lessons, he said.
For one, it reinforced fire inspections’ importance.
Earlier in the year an inspection of the Humphrey Street building turned up code violations related to fire alarms.
The owner upgraded the fire alarms, and they alerted residents to the fire.
The fire chief thinks these improvement helped get everyone out safely.
The department also learned that it needs to tighten its inspections to include updated information on the location of gas and electric service areas and oil tanks.
Sometimes these items are moved during building improvement projects and the department needs to document the changes, the fire chief said,
The department is looking into ways to collect and store updated information in computer files that are readily accessible and indicate exactly where these items are located.