UPDATE: A release from the city of Jackson says EPA and EGLE testing on debris from the fire found no hazardous materials.
LANSING, Mich. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working with officials in Jackson to determine what, if any, environmental contamination yesterday’s massive blaze may have caused.
The concern over contamination is also causing Jackson schools to ban anyone from “playground equipment, outdoor recess, or athletic practice” until lab results are returned. Jackson High School is also moving its varsity football game from a home game to an away game at Monroe High School.
A 2022 environmental assessment on the vacant buildings on W. North St. completed using EPA dollars determined the property was contaminated by asbestos, volatile organic compounds and petroleum-related chemicals. Asbestos can cause lung cancer if the small particles are inhaled.
City spokesperson Aaron Dimick says Tuesday afternoon’s inferno sent “massive amounts of ash and debris into the air.” The debris and ash descended on properties in the northwest area of the City of Jackson.
EPA officials have been on the ground since this morning, collecting samples for testing. The agency is also checking air quality, but Dimick reports “no contaminants have been found.”
Until testing is complete on the debris, the EPA urges residents to not touch any pieces from the fire, Dimick says. If there is debris on lawns, the EPA advises residents to not cut grass until testing is complete or items are removed.
Testing is expected to be completed later today, or tomorrow, Dimick says. Law enforcement from the Jackson Police Department and Michigan State Police are investigating the cause of the blaze.
According to the EPA assessment, the property consists of three legal parcels of land, equaling about 9.42 acres. The buildings were completed in the mid-1880s. Originally the site included residential housing, Withington-Cooley Farm Tool Company as well as the Austin, Tomlinson, and Webster’s Wagons and Michigan Wagon & Manufacturing Company.
From the mid-1970s until the mid-1990s, the subject property was occupied by Airmaster Fan Company and various smaller fan companies including Wolverine Fan Company, Autumaire Fan Company, Brundage Blowers, and Chelsea Fan & Blower, the EPA document reports.
Since the late 1990s, the document continues, portions of the buildings have been leased to various industrial companies including Wulkan Precision Products, Composite Technologies, Doerken Corporation, Allied Chucker & Engineering, custom fabrication companies, Grand River Wood Work, Freed, Modern Tube, LLC, Lindsay Disposal, Walton Woods Woodwork, and Professional Tree Care.
The property is currently owned by Commercial Exchange, Inc. The western building is unoccupied, and the eastern building is occupied by Modern Tube, LLC, Lindsay Disposal, Walton Woods Woodwork, Grand River Wood Work, and Professional Tree Care. The eastern parcel is currently utilized as a parking lot.