UPDATE: A Hudson resident makes the insightful point that there have been three fires—one at Amanda’s Fireplace, and two now at TCI—within a few hundred yards of each other in the past couple of years. Makes you wonder if there is a firebug in the neighborhood.
Listening to this afternoon’s press conference by County, State and Federal officials on WGXC was frustrating, as two out of the three speakers were almost inaudible—either due to mumbling or the poor quality of the audio feed. (CBS6’s live stream was apparently much clearer.) With that caveat, here are some notes on what was said, to the extent that it could be heard:
• The fire is now “99% out” and the cause of the fire is “under investigation.”
• The alert for the 15-mile radius (or rather, 15-mile diameter) of the site has now been lifted.
• “A drum of PCBs,” said to be a “very small amount” was onsite. (A little polychlorinated biphenyl goes a long way.)
• 20,000 gallons of mineral oil, some motor oil, and some propane tanks were also onsite, contributing one supposes to the intensity of the fire. (Mineral oil? Is there an epidemic of diaper rash in the County?)
• Officials are “doing some additional testing,” but claim that no traces of PCBs were found in residues near the site.
• Testing for “other chemicals,” such as highly toxic dioxins—which, as previously reported here, PCBs can morph into when burned—is not yet complete, but is expected maybe by tomorrow.
• It was decided to were “pull out” firefighters at some point due to the intensity of the blaze and lack of certainty as to what was onsite.
• A question was asked by reporters in the audience about what agency is “supposed to be monitoring this facility,” and when it was last “checked out,” especially considering that it had a smaller fire barely six months ago. “That is under investigation,” was the answer.
• People were still working there after the January fire; it isn’t clear if anyone was working there last night.
• Officials feel satisfied that they did what they could to “notify everybody as quickly as possible,” while conceding that unlike some neighboring counties, Columbia does not have a reverse 911 system.
• The Columbia County Health Department will be issuing a guidance document on how to deal with any soot people find on their property or in their homes.
• The 15-mile radius was chosen to ensure that if there were a wind change, causing a change in the direction of the plume, people would be on alert.
• In response to a question about whether any people were called in the potentially most-impacted areas, the answer was “I would say no.”
• The County requested help from State Emergency Management, and received it asw ell frm ROTC, Dutchess, Greene and Rensselaer counties; a truck also came from an Air Force base at 9 am this morning.
• A speaker commented that after 25-30 years of fighting fires, “I have never seen explosions like on this fire.”