Fremont Bridge flags won't fly at half-staff for Memorial Day du - KPTV - FOX 12

Fremont Bridge flags won't fly at half-staff for Memorial Day due to asbestos from fire

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Flags on top of the Fremont Bridge (KPTV file image) Flags on top of the Fremont Bridge (KPTV file image)
Warehouse fire under the Fremont Bridge on May 14. (KPTV) Warehouse fire under the Fremont Bridge on May 14. (KPTV)
A warehouse under the Fremont Bridge was destroyed in a fire. (KPTV/Air 12) A warehouse under the Fremont Bridge was destroyed in a fire. (KPTV/Air 12)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

The flags on top of the Fremont Bridge will not be lowered to half-staff for Memorial Day due to asbestos concerns connected with the massive warehouse fire under the bridge earlier this month.

Firefighters responded to the 1300 block of North River Road the evening of May 14. The building contained synthetic products that burn easily and the fire grew to three alarms.  

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality reported that asbestos was found in the debris from the fire.

The plume covered the bridge and was detected a mile upriver.

The Oregon Department of Transportation reported Friday that asbestos may have leached into the archway of the bridge that workers use to reach the top and lower the flags.

The asbestos concerns have prompted ODOT to prohibit workers from using the archway.

A consulting company recently took samples from inside the arch and will test them for the presence of asbestos. Results should be known in a few weeks.

"Workers will not be allowed inside the arch until ODOT is certain they can operate safely," according to an ODOT statement.

When asbestos-containing materials break down, asbestos fibers can be released. The fibers are very small and thin and cannot be seen without a microscope. Breathing these fibers can cause asbestos-related disease. They can stick in the lungs, causing asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

A reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest in connection with the fire.

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