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Efforts underway to "deconstruct" World War 2 blimp hangar in Tustin

The effort to put out the massive fire that destroyed a 17-story World War 2 blimp hangar at the former Tustin Marine Base shifted into a new phase Saturday as work began to deconstruct most of the remaining hangar to suppress the remaining fire.

Massive fire burns through historic hangar at former air base in Tustin
Tustin, CA - November 07: Firefighters work to control a blaze at the north blimp hangar at the former Marine Corps Air Station Tustin in Tustin, CA, on Tuesday, November 7, 2023. Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

The intent of the latest effort is to put out remaining hot spots while stabilizing the hangar doors and leaving the concrete pillars to be dealt with later, according to a statement by the Incident Management Team.

Monitoring was to be performed at 33 locations through the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the South Coast Air Quality Management District. That would include dust monitors around the immediate perimeter and monitoring /sampling stations around the fence line and in the surrounding community providing real-time data, officials said.

Related: Latest samples show no respirable levels of asbestos from Tustin hangar fire

Heavy equipment will remove debris and clear roadways so water trucks can access all areas of the hangar, officials said. Excavators will knock down what's left of the west-facing wall to enable access to heavy debris and deep seeding smoldering fires and remove hanging debris along both walls. Water trucks will put out hot spots and control dust.

The fire destroyed the iconic hangar in the early morning of Nov. 7.

Debris and ash from the fire showed the presence of asbestos, leading the AQMD to issue warnings about unhealthy air and urge residence to remain indoors with windows and doors closed.

The Tustin Unified School District cancelled classes for about a week and the Orange County Board of Supervisors issued an emergency proclamation.

The hangar and its twin are more than 1,000 feet long and 300 feet wide. They are listed on the national Register of Historic Places.

They have been featured in television and films, including "JAG," "The X-Files," "Austin Powers," "Pearl Harbor" and "Star Trek."

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