EPA to answer questions about Lafayette mill fire in public sess - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

EPA to answer questions about Lafayette mill fire in public session

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Firefighters in Lafayette continue to monitor the site of the old Barwick Mills fire after the plant went up in flames Saturday afternoon. The plume of smoke could be seen for miles.

The EPA says it is better to be cautious and for people living near the plant to avoid being outside if they can.

"We had pretty good results," said Carter Williamson with the EPA, Monday.

READ MORE: Officials Worry about the Environmental Impact Massive Fire is Having in Downtown LaFayette

For more than 24 hours the EPA has been taking air quality readings from four different sites around the Barwick Mills fire. 

"You end up with particulate matter much like when you're burning leaves in your yard," said Williamson.

The EPA analyzes the quantity of particulates, not what they are made up of. For now they want people to stay indoors if they can. 

"Keep your children inside. If you have existing respiratory issues take that into account," said Williamson.

"We had several different products in there. None were hazardous. They were all biodegradable products," said Nate Bennett with Ashgan.

Some of those products include calcium carbonate and polypropylene. 

Bennett is president of Chattanooga-based Ashgan Products. It manufactures different chemicals for the textile industry. The company was renting out 50,000 square feet in the mill for storage. He says it was up to code when the company first moved in. 

"The building was completely vacant. And it was cleaned out to OSHA's regulations," said Bennett.

Now his company is out $250,000 worth of products. But Bennett is just glad no one was hurt. 

"Turned it all over to God. I have faith that everything's going to be alright," he said.

"I knew we were probably the closest school to the fire," said Matt Harris, Principal at Gilbert Elementary School

Principal Matt Harris at Gilbert Elementary School did not take any chances. All 500 students went without recess Monday, spending the day inside. 

"Just to be prudent. There's no need to worry parents about their child breathing in anything," said Harris.

The strong smell associated with the fire is most likely from the rubber lining on the roof burning. 
There is no indication at this point what may have started the fire or the total amount of dollar loss.

The EPA is hosting a public information session at the Lafayette-Walker County Library Tuesday from 3-7 p.m. The address is 305 S. Duke Street in Lafayette. The EPA will have representatives there to answer questions about the fire.

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