North Country
3:36 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

State Says No Evidence of Air Pollution In Balsams Fire

Working largely on what amounts to the honor system state officials say they have decided state air pollution standards were not violated in a fire last January when two buildings at the Balsams resort were burned down as part of a renovation.

But in reaching that conclusion officials  – in large part - are taking the word of Colebrook fire officials that before the fire was started all materials that could have caused air pollution were removed from the dormitory and a factory once used to make rubber products, says James Martin, a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Services.

The DES is fining Colebrook fire officials $2,601 for failing to tell DES in advance about the fire and not having a state-approved inspector present.

Had an inspector been present he would have checked the buildings before the fire to make sure they were empty, Martin says. But since DES learned of the fire after it was over agency investigators had to take the word of fire officials.

The agency says Colebrook Fire Chief Brett Brooks provided an independent report showing an “asbestos abatement project” had been completed before the fire and their inspection afterwards showed “debris and ash resulting from the fire were disposed of properly.”

The fires took place on January 6 when several North Country fire departments participated as a training exercise.

The fire apparently saved money for the owners, Dan Hebert and Dan Dagesse, who wanted to demolish the buildings as part of a planned renovation. Their corporation, Balsams View LLC, was fined $1,000.

The report took more than four months to complete.