Plans being made for removal of Belvedere Hotel’s charred remains |
Valley News Dispatch

Plans being made for removal of Belvedere Hotel’s charred remains

Mary Ann Thomas
Mary Ann Thomas | Tribune-Review
The remains of the former Belvedere Hotel in Oklahoma Borough after fire destroyed the historic building on Wednesday, July 24, 2019.

State Rep. Joe Petrarca confirmed his office is leading efforts to kick off the cleanup of the charred, asbestos- laden remains of the Belvedere Hotel along Route 66 in Oklahoma Borough.

A July 24 blaze swiftly destroyed the abandoned, almost 115-year-old hotel. The fire still is under investigation by state police.

Details of the cleanup plan will be released to the public Aug. 15, according to Lee Schumaker, code enforcement officer for Oklahoma Borough. Petrarca’s office is pursuing funding. Schumaker could not provide a cost estimate Tuesday.

Aside from securing funding, another challenge facing officials is to prevent dust from the pile of rubble from becoming airborne because of potential asbestos contamination.

The state Department of Environmental Protection, which was on the scene following the fire, said the public was not exposed to asbestos from the Belvedere fire but the debris should stay wet or covered, according to DEP spokeswoman Lauren Fraley.

Since an asbestos survey was not possible earlier this year because the building was structurally unsound, DEP assumes asbestos is present but concluded that the water used to extinguish the fire was sufficient to prevent the release of asbestos particulates, Fraley said.

Oklahoma Volunteer Fire Department has been misting the hotel remains every couple of days to keep the debris wet, according to Schumaker.

“We’re taking the necessary steps to keep it safe for the general public,” he said.

The cleanup plans are being developed by multiple government agencies, including the state Department of Environmental Protection, PennDOT, Westmoreland County and Oklahoma Borough, Schumaker said.

Before the fire, plans were under way to raze the four-story, famously dilapidated building that was leaning into Route 66. Estimates for demolition before it burned ranged from $200,000 to $500,000.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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