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Maywood residents aren't allowed to return home until post-fire hazard testing is completed

Maywood residents aren't allowed to return home until post-fire hazard testing is completed
Firefighters spray water from the roof of a Maywood warehouse where an explosive fire burned earlier this month. (Irfan Khan/ Los Angeles Times)

About 200 Maywood residents will not be allowed to return to the homes they evacuated after an industrial fire until toxicity tests are completed, L.A. County and federal officials said at a news conference Monday. The testing could take several days, they said.

The blaze June 14 at a plastics facility spread to a metal recycling yard where magnesium ignited, triggering explosions.

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Authorities have been testing ash and the air in surrounding neighborhoods for dangerous metals.

Samples taken outside do not indicate a health hazard, but those gathered inside the 43 evacuated homes are still being tested, said Michelle Rogow, on-site coordinator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The emergency will require ongoing assessment


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Several residents expressed frustration that they haven't been allowed back and that other homes aren't being tested.

L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis said the top concern of officials would be making sure no harmful chemicals were present.

"The emergency will require ongoing assessment," she said.

A large fire erupted at 2:31 a.m. at a plastics facility, then spread into the metal recycling yard. The blaze triggered explosions, blowing out windows and raining down debris on nearby homes.

Plumes of smoke sent fine metal particles into the air and created an odor reported as far away as the San Fernando Valley.

The problems in Maywood come amid growing debate about homes being located close to industry. Thousands of Porter Ranch residents were forced to flee their homes for months after a massive gas leak at a Southern California Gas Co. facility nearby.

Maywood is one of several cities in southeast L.A. County that sit near industrial businesses and that has caused problems in the past.

The most high-profile example is the now-shuttered Exide battery plant, which resulted in lead contamination at thousands of homes in the surrounding area. Some areas of Maywood were tested for potential contamination.

Twitter: @byjsong

UPDATES:

7:07 p.m.:  This post has been updated with new background information.

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This post was originally published at 5:59 p.m.

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