AN investigation was underway last night after a fire at a derelict factory sparked an asbestos scare.
The empty building at the Shanks Industrial Park, in Barrhead, went up in flames on Thursday night, with crews from the town’s fire station rushing to the scene.
However, they had to call in support from other areas to tackle the blaze during a five-and-a-half hour operation.
Due to the age of the building, concerns were raised about the possibility of potentially deadly asbestos being released into the air.
Asbestos was widely used in construction before being banned after it was found that, if disturbed and inhaled, it could cause terminal illness.
The blaze was discovered at around 8.30pm on Thursday and, yesterday morning, cops wearing special safety masks were standing guard beside the fire-ravaged building as officials from East Renfrewshire Council arrived to make the area safe.
Fences have also been erected around the privately-owned property in a bid to keep people away.
A spokesman for Strathclyde Fire and Rescue said: “Firefighters from Barrhead were called to a property in Shanks Industrial Park that was well alight.
“Due to the extent of the blaze, further attendance was requested and crews from Paisley and Pollok arrived shortly afterwards.
“Crews tackled the well-developed fire using two main jets and an aerial rescue pump. They left the incident shortly before 2am on Friday morning.
“The cause of the blaze is now being investigated.”
A spokesman for East Renfrewshire Council said initial concerns that asbestos may have been disturbed during the blaze were eased following an investigation.
He added: “A patrol around the streets close to the site revealed only charred debris normally associated with a fire and there were no obvious signs of asbestos in the vicinity.
“The Health and Safety Executive were contacted and their advice was that, if any asbestos were in the former office block, it would be of the lowest grade of material.
“There was a very low risk of asbestos fibres being released as a result of the fire.”
Although the Shanks site is privately owned, East Renfrewshire Council’s environmental health team and building control team went to the scene to carry out assessments.
And, despite the low risk of asbestos, council officials have still urged local residents to be cautious.
The spokesman added: “Our teams recommended that the building affected by the fire should be demolished and this will be done as soon as possible.
“A path to the site has been blocked to prevent access.
“Residents who may have found debris in their gardens and are at all unsure should keep it damp and, as an extra precaution, wear a protective mask, which can be bought in any DIY store.
“Then, using gloves or a shovel, they should dispose of the debris in a plastic bin bag.”
Inspector Campbell Crawford, of Barrhead Police Office, confirmed that the cause of the blaze has yet to be determined.
He said: “Anyone who has information or who witnessed suspicious activity at the Shanks site is asked to contact us on 0141 532 6100. They can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”