Rhode Island

Residents Asked to Avoid Smoke Downwind After Asbestos Concerns in Killingly Fire

People in the Killingly area are being warned to avoid the smoke downwind caused by a vacant mill fire after asbestos was identified in roofing materials, police said.

Debris from the fire was deposited on surrounding downwind properties, according to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Firefighters were called to the Acme Mill shortly before 4 a.m. on Saturday.

When the East Killingly Fire Chief arrived on scene, he said there was fire in one corner of the mill, but it quickly spread to the rest of the mill and additional units were called to the scene.

At least eight departments with at least 15 pieces of apparatus and multiple state agencies were at the scene, fire officials said. 

Breathing asbestos fibers can increase the risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma, according to DEEP.

Fire officials said there is no longer an air quality health risk.

No injuries have been reported.

The fire department said the fire is under control and they are still extiguishing hot spots at the mill, according to spokesman for the state's Region IV Incident Management Team Joe Danao.

The cause of the fire and extent of the damage is currently unknown.

Operations are expected to continue through the night. This will impact local travel, fire officials said.

Air monitoring has revealed that no toxic chemicals have been detected, however, the visible solid in the smoke may pose health risks, DEEP said.

DEEP is mapping the debris field and environmental contractors will remove the debris in the coming days. 

It is unlikely that anyone will experience more than a short-term, low level exposure to asbestos from this fire, DEEP said.

Residents are warned not to touch any debris. Killingly residents that have concerns about fire debris on their property are asked to call the local debris hotline at 860-774-7555.

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