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Just 22 residents seek help after Bethlehem Steel fire

Only 22 residents of Bethlehem Park have requested cleanup assistance in the aftermath of the stubborn  fire at the former Bethlehem Steel Plant that left a coating of soot and ash in many of their homes.

One city official was surprised at how few residents acted on the offer from the owner  of  the facility that burned down last month, to pay for the cleanup of smoke and soot inside residents' homes.

“After the vocal crowd we had at our public meeting, I would expect more people to call,” said Fred Heinle, Lackawanna director of development.

At least 300 people attended the meeting on Nov. 20 at the Lackawanna Senior Center to voice their concerns over health and safety matters after the epic fire that resulted in the evacuation of many residents from the close-knit Bethlehem Park neighborhood.

In response to health concerns of residents and the pressure from officials to help the residents, Great Lakes Industrial Development established a cleanup hotline at 207-8685. People who were experiencing problems with their insurance carriers were advised to contact the state Department of Financial Services Disaster hotline at (800) 339-1759.

Meanwhile, officials from the company also worked with the state Department of Labor to determine the scope of work for the handling and removal of charred materials that remain on the site at 3043 Lakeshore Blvd.

[Gallery: Wreckage of the Bethlehem Steel fire site]

“Everything is still on site,” said Heinle. “And, there is still a major building to be torn down.”

A spokesman for Great Lakes said that, because of the low number of phone calls, the company will send an informational packet to each residence.

“We’ll reiterate the number to call and the process involved in making an insurance claim,” said Phil Pantano. “There are a lot of different insurance companies involved. We’re trying the streamline the process as best as possible.”

Pantano said just over 20 calls had been received as of Saturday. All of the calls were from Lackawanna residents.

“We’re looking to do the cleaning as expeditiously as possible,” Pantano said.

The company will pay for the cost of the interior cleaning. And if  the resident already paid  a private company, Great Lakes will work with the resident to get reimbursement.


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