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Tustin hangar to be demolished in coming days

The burning blimp hangar at the shuttered Tustin Marine Corps Air Station will be demolished in the coming days as the fire that’s burned for over a week nears its end, according to local officials.

Orange County Third District Supervisor Don Wagner said Tuesday morning there will be ample public notice for when the hangar will be torn down, but a date hadn’t been set yet.

“Right now, it’s a bit of a moving target of when it’s going to happen,” Wagner said. “I don’t believe it will be as early as (Wednesday).”

The fire continues to burn at the decommissioned military hangar, one of a pair of icons for the city. The fire is moving down the west wall.

Construction activity has begun around the hangar in preparation for the demolition. Tustin Mayor Austin Lumbard said the Orange County Fire Authority expects the fire to last another day or two.

Testing of air quality samples taken over the weekend from four locations surrounding the hangar showed no asbestos, according to a news release Monday night from the city of Tustin.

Asbestos cleanup continues around Tustin to remove hazardous debris from city streets and neighborhoods. The weekend flare-ups at the hangar put more debris in some neighborhoods, according to an incident update from the city. Cleanup may take several weeks to complete.

Lumbard said the city has proactively deployed cleanup personnel in the nearby Columbus Square neighborhood. The city on Tuesday set up a new call center and debris reporting portal. The portal is linked to GIS mapping and will help officials determine hotspots for cleanup.

The Tustin Unified School District canceled plans to bring students back to several of its schools on Tuesday due to the hangar demolition plans. “It is possible that all TUSD schools will finish this week in virtual instruction,” Tustin Unified Superintendent Mark Johnson said in a Monday night statement, but Tuesday afternoon said some students would return to campuses on Wednesday.

“This morning, as we continue to meet with the Incident Management Team, OCHCA, South Coast AQMD and the city of Tustin, we are thrilled to share that we are reopening all campuses that have been cleared by our certified asbestos consulting firm, Envirocheck, for on-campus instruction,” the Tuesday afternoon update said. “In addition to clearance by Envirocheck, these campuses have received a general cleaning and will resume in-person instruction, athletics, and activities.”

Parents can check for a list of the schools that have been cleared and which are still pending and will remain virtual.

Lumbard said engineers have determined a demolition plan, but it depends on when the fire stops and how much of the structure will ultimately burn down.

“If the fire burns most of the structure, demolition is going to look a lot different than if the fire all of a sudden goes out,” Lumbard said. “I would expect it later this week.”

Lumbard said he hopes to give residents at least 24 hours notice for when demolition will begin, but there could be a situation based on how the fire burns where officials need to act fast.

Source: Orange County Register

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