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Homeowners impacted by Oregon Road, Gray Fires facing new challenges with asbestos testing

Those affected by the fires are said to be spending between $200-$2,000 plus for asbestos testing.

MEDICAL LAKE, Wash. — Weeks after the Oregon Road and Gray fires burned through parts of Spokane County, heartache turned into headaches for homeowners who lost everything to the flames. 

That's because many of them are finding out they're required to get an asbestos test before they clean up the debris. 

One reason it's become a headache is the question of how much it'll cost. 

One woman who spoke to KREM 2 anonymously says she was told it could be about $200 to $2,000.

That question was on the minds of many attending Wednesday night's community meeting in Medical Lake, which touched on debris management. There, officials shared each burned structure needs to be tested for asbestos before cleanup begins. 

Fulcrum Environmental Consulting has been helping with some of that testing.

"When your house gets burned down, you know, all that has been impacted and some some of that ash is presumed to be contaminated with asbestos until it's tested and shown to be otherwise," said Fulcrum regional manager Scott Groat.

As for how long testing takes, Groat said it can come down to where the lab is. He says Fulcrum sends their testing samples to an out-of-state lab and usually get them back in about five to seven days. 

He notes that if it takes longer for someone to get the results back, it might be because the lab testing them is overloaded with samples. 

Once the testing is done, they'll help with a cleanup plan. According to Groat, the cost for their inspection can be about $1,000 to $3,000 depending on each individual property and how much it burned. He says home insurance can help with the cost.

While Robert Mountjoy, who lost his home in the Gray Fire, says his insurance has been helpful so far, that's not the case for everyone.

"I'm happy with my insurance company, so I don't feel like we're going to have problems," Mountjoy said.

"It's bad enough we have to try to come up with the difference between what the insurances are trying to give us as to what we lost," the anonymous woman said. "Now, we have extra."

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