A toll-free number dedicated to the removal of debris from individuals or in public spaces is set up this Monday, October 2 by Rouen Habitat, the owner of the two disused buildings that caught fire Saturday night in the Saint-Julien district, in Rouen (Seine-Maritime). This number "will be dedicated to the removal of debris from individuals or in public spaces as well as to the information of the public," said the prefecture in a press release dated Sunday.
The two glass and steel buildings that collapsed contained asbestos. Built in the 1970s, they had been empty since 2018. The fire, which caused no casualties, released large plumes of smoke over the city. If the fire is "contained and controlled", the firefighters were yesterday still confronted with "residual fires located under the entanglement of the collapsed structure," says the town hall.
Drinking water tanks inspected
A security perimeter has therefore been defined around the area to control the level of concentration of asbestos fibres. This area concerns districts of Rouen and the commune of Petit-Quevilly. The results of these additional analyses will be known by Wednesday at the latest. No threshold of dangerousness had been raised according to the first measurements carried out by the firefighters Saturday night.
In parallel, the Regional Health Agency (ARS) ordered the inspection of two overhead drinking water tanks located five kilometers from the site of the fire. The samples taken by Veolia will then be sent to a laboratory that will analyze the samples. The results will be known within a week. The ARS also specified that no particular attendance of Rouen emergencies in connection with this fire was noted. Nor is an "upsurge in calls to the UAS". For its part, Public Health France "monitors the health status of the population and may, if necessary, ensure appropriate surveillance according to the results of environmental analyses".
Regarding schools and nurseries, all exteriors located in the wider perimeter of the fire were checked Sunday morning. "On the left bank nothing abnormal is found in the schools concerned (Les Fabulettes, Anne Sylvestre, Rosa Parks, Jean Mullot, Pape Carpentier)," says the town hall. On the right bank of the city, schools and nurseries have been cleaned. Only the nursery and elementary school of Les Pépinières will remain closed this Monday 2 and Tuesday 3 October.
In the area concerned, the prefecture invites residents to be careful to clean soot because of combustion residues and products that can be irritating. Avoiding skin contact, cleaning outdoor furniture only with water or protecting your skin with household gloves are some of the recommended actions. Similarly, it is requested not to go to the scene of the fire or to collect potential fallout (soot and debris), pending the results of the analyzes.
The fear of reviving Lubrizol
In the hours following the fire, many residents were worried on social networks about possible asbestos pollution. "We are not in the context of a fire like Lubrizol where there was a chemical risk, we are of course a risk of asbestos fiber, it is not the same level of dangerousness," reassured AFP Fatima El Khili, deputy mayor in charge of urban planning.
In September 2019, a fire affected this automotive lubricants site in Rouen classified Seveso high threshold. It had caused a gigantic plume of black smoke and nearly 10,000 tons of chemicals had burned. In January 2023, the Bolloré Logistics company site in Grand-Couronne in Seine-Maritime caught fire, reviving the fears of part of the population about the consequences for health and the environment.
The origin of the disaster of this weekend "is not determined", recalls the town hall. The prosecutor's office has opened an investigation entrusted to the departmental security of Rouen for "involuntary destruction by fire by deliberate breach of an obligation of prudence or safety".