On Thursday June 21, the Grand County Office of Emergency Management received a report on asbestos contamination in the burn area of the Cinema Court Fire. It was found that all except one of the nine homes were free from asbestos contamination, according to a press release from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office. The ninth home was contaminated with asbestos.
The eight unaffected property owners have received approval from the state to begin cleaning up what remains of their homes. The Southeast Utah Health Department will work with the owner of the contaminated property to develop a mitigation plan for cleanup, according to Orion Rogers, environmental health director for the health department.
Initially, the county thought it might cost as much as $100,000 for the county to restore the contaminated lot, according to Grand County Council Chair Mary McGann, who gave an update on the fire on Tuesday, June 26 at a meeting of the Grand County Planning Commission. After further investigation, however, it was found that the asbestos was isolated to a small area “so the Department of Air Quality and Orion Rogers from the Health Department will be trained and able to clean it up … then it will have to be hauled to a certain facility,” McGann said.
McGann said that various members of the community have stepped up to help with the project. “The outpouring of support … it just makes you proud,” she said.
Bill Jackson, McGann said, has volunteered to be the point person on the cleanup. Monument Waste has provided free dumpsters that they take to the Klondike or Moab landfills. The landfill is waiving fees on those materials. Meanwhile, volunteers are being trained on how to help to restore the areas. Walker Drug has given away safety equipment “so that people can have ventilators and gloves.” Jair West is taking scrap metal to Grand Junction and donating the money he makes on recycling to support the cost of cleanup, McGann said. In addition, the Latter-day Saints Church Relief Society has set up a tent with food and water for those conducting the cleanup.
Unfortunately, the state has yet to help with the cost of the devastation, leaving that burden to fall on the county and the victims of the fire, McGann said.
In a press release, the sheriff’s office requested that the public continue to show respect for the residents of the impacted area and refrain from entering the burn area as recovery begins.
The sheriff’s office also reminded all Moab residents about the importance of cleaning up areas around their homes to create “defensible space” that could save homes in the event of a fire. Residents are to dispose of leaves and debris without burning.
The sheriff’s office is continuing to accept monetary donations for the victims of the fire. Donations can be made to the Cinema Court Fire at Desert Rivers Credit Union, formerly known as Grand County Credit Union.
The account had more that $44,000 in donations as of Wednesday morning, and is likely to keep growing with the Moab Strong Telethon set for July 1. Advertising door prizes and refreshments, the telethon will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Zions Bank Lobby. All proceeds will go to the victims of the fire.
The investigation into the cause of the Cinema Court Fire continues. The sheriff’s office is offering $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of the individual or individuals responsible.
ByBy Rose Egelhoff