It will take a considerable amount of time to finish that work and to figure out what caused the fire.
What isn't clear is how much this response will cost -- and precisely who will pay for it.
Officials representing the cities of
And the company that owns the property,
"From a financial standpoint, it'll be a devastating loss," said
As smoke billowed from spot fires Sunday at the former steel mill property in
Crews from the
Across the street, a steady stream of people arrived on
Under bright sunshine, they took pictures of what remained of the towering steel frame and of piles of twisted metal and rubble. A stiff wind carried an acrid odor that left a bitter taste with some onlookers.
"I just remember all the men walking to work with their lunch boxes," said
Her husband, Bill, wondered if the site could be reborn after the fire, and who would pay for it. "Depends how much money they want to sink into it, that's all. It's just a money pit," he said.
Storage business engulfed
Every day since the fire, Dr.
His company offers winter storage to cars, mobile homes, boats and personal watercrafts, and has been in that building for the past two years. He got a call from a friend at about
Hornberger watched the fire progress for two hours. "It was painful," he said.
A thick, steel wall separated the section of the structure where the fire began from the section where his company stored about 90 vehicles. But he said he thinks a burning ember, or embers, floated down a smoke stack into his part of the building and spread the fire.
Hornberger said he's devastated for his clients, who took their vehicles to the building for storage as recently as the day before the fire. The owners, as part of their contracts, must agree in writing that they carry insurance or they must waive liability.
"There's people with wooden boats that were passed down in their families, old Corvettes," he said, but the most important thing is no one was seriously hurt or killed in the fire.
Hornberger said he will work to reimburse the vehicle owners as much of their rental payments for this season as possible. An optometrist who also owns a detailing business, Hornberger said he doesn't know if he will restart this company after he resolves everything related to the fire.
Costs, timeline unknown
It will take
[Related: What makes fighting the Bethlehem fire so difficult]
He said the owners haven't begun to think about what they'll do with the site, which they bought in 2010.
"The only thing we know for sure is we have a long road ahead of us to figure out what comes next," Pantano said.
Residents dismiss concerns
Neighbors in the shadow of the long-shuttered plant say the fire doesn't make them feel any less safe about their homes.
"I wanted to take some pictures for history's sake," Butts said. She said she bought an air purifier for her home, but otherwise isn't too worried.
As for the site clean-up and reuse, Butts said, "Obviously this is not a short-term thing."
[Related: Amid charred ruins,
Pauley can remember when the plant was running and particulates came out of the stacks that would coat the windows and the siding on the houses with an orange film. That had to be just as bad, or worse, than whatever is coming out of the plant from the fire, she said.
Or, holding her pack of cigarettes, she asked, "Is what's in the steel plant any worse than what's in these?"
As for the cost of the cleanup, he said he'd like to see the property owner bear more of the responsibility.
"Why should the taxpayers always pay?" Banas said.
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