Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Fire leaves a trail of questions

Department of Environmental Protection investigator Jeff Tobergte, left, tests the air Monday with George Bessler, Seminole assistant fire chief and deputy commander of the Pinellas hazardous materials team, after Friday’s fire at Clearwater’s Aerosonic Corp. The test showed normal readings.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Department of Environmental Protection investigator Jeff Tobergte, left, tests the air Monday with George Bessler, Seminole assistant fire chief and deputy commander of the Pinellas hazardous materials team, after Friday’s fire at Clearwater’s Aerosonic Corp. The test showed normal readings.

CLEARWATER — Three days after a large fire at the site of Aerosonic Corp., investigators still had not been inside the charred Clearwater building Monday. And questions remained about what type of dangerous chemicals may have been present.

Samuel Venzeio, a spokesman for the state fire marshal, said investigators were waiting on clearance from the Department of Environmental Protection, which was running precautionary tests for hazardous materials. He expected investigators to enter the building today.

DEP workers took air samples testing for mercury and corrosives at the site on Monday and the results were within acceptable limits.

The building at 1212 N Hercules Ave. caught fire Friday night and burned into Saturday. Fire officials initially said it was a suspicious blaze, but Venzeio said it was entirely too early to determine the cause.

The company, which makes aviation instrumentation and avionics equipment, employs 170 people in Clearwater, about 40 of whom worked in the burned building. Some of these employees may be moved to the company's other facility in Virginia, said Mark Perkins, an executive vice president.

Perkins said that the company performed anodizing procedures in the building and that various rinses and acids were inside. He said they had all been properly listed with authorities.

Filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show that Aerosonic has had problems with contamination.

In 1993, the company entered into a consent agreement with the DEP to contain and clean up soil and groundwater contamination discovered at the Clearwater site.

The source of the contamination is still unknown, the filing said.

It "may have resulted from the accidental loss of solvents and metalworking fluids," or from activity on neighboring properties, the filing said. The company now takes routine measurements to make sure the pollution has been removed.

Thirty percent of the company's sales are to the U.S. military.

Employee Brenda Stonom was optimistic. A Clearwater resident, she said she's worked for Aerosonic for decades and currently works with aircraft calibration.

"We have come through a lot of things and we will overcome this," Stonom said.

"I have faith in this company. It has ridden out a lot of storms. It will rise above this. We have a war to supply."

Staff photographer Douglas R. Clifford contributed to this report. Jonathan Abel can be reached at jabel@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

Fire leaves a trail of questions 08/11/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 3:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up

    Blogs

    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  2. Tampa Bay Times honored for top investigative story in Gerald Loeb annual business awards

    Business

    The Tampa Bay Times was a co-winner in the investigative category for one of the highest honors in business journalism.

    Tampa Bay Times current and former staff writers William R. Levesque, Nathaniel Lash and Anthony Cormier were honored in the investigative category for their coverage of "Allegiant Air" in the 60th Anniversary Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. 
[JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times

]

  3. Pasco woman gives birth to child fathered by 11 year old, deputies say

    Crime

    A Port Richey woman was arrested Tuesday, nearly three years after deputies say she gave birth to a child fathered by an 11-year-old boy.

    Marissa Mowry, 25, was arrested Tuesday on charges she sexually assaulted an 11-year-old and gave birth to his child. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  5. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.