ARSONISTS could be putting their lives at risk after firefighters found what they believe to be asbestos in a derelict Washington building.
The Echo revealed last week that the former Instrip Demolition premises on the town’s Pattinson Industrial Estate had become a regular target for firebugs setting light to rubbish.
Crews from Washington Station spent two hours tackling a blaze at the site.
Fire officers have repeatedly called for action to secure the building but to no avail.
Now a potential new threat has been uncovered after crews from Washington fire station were called to the building this week.
Previous fires had been concentrated on the first floor, but watch manager Stephen Burdis explained that the latest incident had been in a different section.
“The area that was set alight is a single-storey part of the building, where it has now been revealed that under the false tiles on the ceiling, there is what is believed to be asbestos boarding,” he said.
Fire crews have regularly been called to the site in recent weeks, but watch manager Burdis said he was not aware of asbestos having been found previously. “We have been spending a lot of time there,” he said. “We were tied up there for two and a half hours with two appliances.
“We have had fires there before and crews have been in other parts of the building this week, but this is the first time we have been in this part.
“I don’t know it if has been reported by any of the other watches.”
The fire service has strict rules governing how such finds are handled and watch manager Burdis said the discovery had been reported to the Environment Agency and Health Protection Agency with a view to making the building safe.
“Hopefully, the owners of the building, if they can be contacted, will be able to prevent these young people from getting into the building to set fires,” he said.
Developers announced plans to create executive housing, a pub/restaurant, takeaway, shops and business units on the land almost two years ago but the site is still empty.