Mass. chemical explosion site checked for hazardous material; residents waiting to return home
DANVERS, Mass. – Investigators got their first close-up look Friday at a chemical plant leveled by an explosion, saying the damage was so extensive that they don’t know the precise point of the blast.A team of local, state and federal officials briefly examined the charred wreckage Friday afternoon after a hazardous materials team checked the site to ensure it was safe for investigators, who wore respirators as a precaution.The lengthy probe into the cause of Wednesday’s blast, which damaged or destroyed dozens of homes, was expected to continue through the weekend.”It will take quite some time to just get in and document the scene,” said state Fire Marshal Steve Coan. “It’s nothing more than a pile of rubble.”Meanwhile, residents waited to see whether they would be allowed to permanently return to their houses for the first time since the blast, which left a massive pile of rubble and woke people sleeping miles away.”I just want to see what the damage is and get back to normal. A good night’s sleep would be good,” said Susan Tropeano, 45, who fled her house with her husband and 16-year-old son after the explosion.About 10 homes were destroyed and another 60 were damaged when the blast obliterated the former CAI Inc. chemical plant. No serious injuries were reported.Fire Chief James Tutko said about a dozen of the damaged homes will require some reconstruction. The other 50 were being evaluated, and residents could likely return to those in “a matter of days, not weeks,” he said.All 12 people hospitalized because of the blast were released by Thursday.Gov.-elect Deval Patrick visited the site Friday, meeting with safety and local officials.