Firefighters risk asbestos exposure responding to inferno at Vancouver residence
June 15, 2009 - The residents of a Victorian-era building in Vancouver last week escaped injury when a dangerous fire rapidly engulfed their home and contributed to the release of airborne asbestos fibers, putting neighborhood residents and firefighters at risk for asbestos exposure.
According to the fire inspector at the scene: “Part of the old structure contained vermiculite which has asbestos, so we had to worry about contamination of ourselves and equipment when fighting the fire.”
No one was present in the house during the blaze. It is believed that part of the reason the fire engulfed the home so quickly was because the doors and windows were open, giving the fire a steady stream of oxygen fuel. The fire is believed to have started in the garage before spreading to the house.
Airborne asbestos particles can cause lung cancer or mesothelioma. Mesothelioma, a fatal cancer almost exclusively associated with asbestos exposure, has no known cure. Most patients die within a year to 18 months after a diagnosis. The latency period between exposure and a diagnosis is long, commonly 20 to 40 years, though it may be longer.
Vancouver firefighters wrestle with asbestos
Firefighters are considered to be at an increased risk of developing an asbestos disease, as are Navy veterans who were likely exposed on asbestos-laden ships, and construction workers who work with fire-retardant materials.
Construction workers account for 15 percent of mesothelioma deaths, according to government health agencies. Other venues with a high rate of mesothelioma include shipyards, chemical manufacturing, petroleum refining, and the utility industry. Trades or occupations most at risk include pipe fitters, steamfitters, plumbers, mechanical engineers, electricians and elementary school teachers.
Time to seek justice
The personal injury law firm of Weitz & Luxenberg has protected the legal rights of asbestos-injured workers for 25 years – longer than most law firms in the nation. And in that time the firm’s mesothelioma lawyers have won several billion dollars in verdicts and settlements for clients.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, and seek FREE legal guidance and answers to your concerns, please notify us through the communication form below. We will pursue your claim with vigilance to help you pay for medical bills, future and past lost wages, and damages. There is no cost to you until we win a settlement or a verdict.