Asbestos-contaminated smoke from a fire at an old Boston retail landmark resulted in the closure of a nearby subway station for 2 hours and the evacuation of some 50 people.
According to an article in the Boston Globe, a fire in the old Filene’s Basement store last evening prompted the treatment of several people for smoke inhalation and caused fears about the presence of asbestos in the air during and after the fire, which is currently under investigation.
The 8-story building, which is presently being redeveloped, has been a fixture in the Downtown Crossing area for decades, notes the article, but the fact that it is quite old meant that there was most certainly asbestos inside the structure when the fire began around 7 pm on Wednesday evening, Feb. 13.
Asbestos-containing pipe insulation and other materials caught fire in one of the building’s sub-basements, said Steven MacDonald, a fire department spokesman. Authorities are investigating the possibility that asbestos was released into the air during the fire, added Deputy Chief Steve Dunbar. But for safety purposes, fire officials decided it was best to evacuate the Downing Crossing MBTA (Metropolitan Boston Transit Authority) station.
As a precautionary measure, 18 firefighters and five civilians went through asbestos decontamination, MacDonald said.
“The biggest problem wasn’t so much the fire. The problem was the smoke that it generated,” he added.