Tustin public schools to close Thursday due to smoke from hangar fire – Orange County Register

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Public schools in Tustin will will be shut Thursday amid concerns about air quality in the wake of a fire that destroyed a massive World War II-era hangar at the nearby former military base.

The blaze tore through the north hangar at the shuttered Tustin Marine Corps Air Station on Tuesday morning, sending plumes of dark smoke into the air. On Wednesday, health officials advised people who are sensitive to poor air quality to avoid smoke from the fire that continued to burn in the remains of the north hangar at the long-closed Tustin Marine Corps Air Station.

Later Wednesday night, in a message to parents posted on the school district’s website, Tustin Unified School District Superintendent Mark Johnson said that school officials had a conference call with several public safety agencies. Officials with the South Coast Air Quality Management District “made us aware that debris found in the Tustin Legacy area tested greater than 1% positive for asbestos,” Johnson wrote.

“With student and staff safety being our highest priority and in collaboration with the City of Tustin and the Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA), we made the decision to close all school campuses within Tustin Unified School District tomorrow, Thursday, November 9. For tomorrow, no instruction will take place throughout the district.  In addition, all preschools and daycares (Catalyst and YMCA) in TUSD will be closed tomorrow.”

Johnson added: “We are awaiting additional information from SCAQMD.  Please be assured that we will communicate with you throughout the weekend regarding important updates, as more information becomes available.”

On Wednesday, health officials advised people who are sensitive to air quality issues to avoid smoke from the fire that continued to burn in the remains of the north hangar at the long-closed Tustin Marine Corps Air Station.

The blaze that has destroyed the historic structure started early Tuesday and smoke rose high into the air throughout the afternoon Tuesday.

The cause of the fire is being investigated by Orange County Fire Authority and Navy officials

The north hangar, with its nearby southern twin, is owned by the Department of the Navy, though the Tustin base was shuttered in 1999 and hundreds of its acres have since been developed with housing and other community uses.

The two mostly wooden hangars – each 17 stories tall, 1,000 feet long and 300 feet wide – were built in 1942 to house blimps for patrolling the West Coast for Japanese submarines and later used by helicopter squadrons. They are listed on the Register of National Historic Places.


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