Residents concerned about dangerous debris from mansion fire in north St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS – Now that the dust has settled from the historic Clemons mansion fire in the Carr Square neighborhood, that very dust and debris is concerning residents.

"You have debris that was that large, it has to contain some type of chemical if it's that old, dating all the way back to the 1800s," said Leon Bell, Carr Square resident.

Resident Larry Chapman had a third party test the debris he collected in his yard and said those results came back positive for asbestos. Chapman and other residents claim the poor oversight and upkeep of the vacant mansion and other buildings, owned by developer Paul McKee, is to blame.

"Because he did not do anything, his building was ignited, caught fire and endangered the lives of at least everyone I know on this block," said Chapman. "And we don't know what the health hazard is to others where this stuff floated.”

"That is not the case at all," said Paul Mckee, owner of the Clemons property. "There is no asbestos in there. We had that cleaned up about two to three years ago."

McKee said despite some residents' claims he doesn't properly maintain his vacant properties, he said it's his goal to work alongside residents to restore life to his vacant buildings.

"We try to meet with them regularly and take care of things as best we know how," McKee said. "It's sad. It's a sad day for our community when we lose a piece of our history like that."

As residents continue to voice their concerns, newly-elected Alderman Brandon Bosley is hoping to find some solution between developers like McKee and his residents to restore trust and confidence.

"We don't want this here for an extremely long time and we don't want to have to wait for months to try to find out if we have breathe in hazards materials," said Bosley. "We have children on this block, so it's more about getting that information out there and giving the community the answers they want.”

Residents and community leaders are planning a news conference for Saturday morning near Helen and Mullanphy at 9:00 a.m. to discuss the future of the site and the neighborhood.

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