Infrastructure

Preliminary indications show Surfside air is not toxic after 12-story tower collapse, mayor says

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Key Points
  • Surfside, Florida Mayor Charles Burkett said Monday his town is testing the air quality amid health concerns for first responders and residents following the collapse of a 12-story ocean-front condo tower.
  • Burkett told CNBC's "The News with Shepard Smith" that preliminary indications showed the air was not toxic.

Surfside, Florida Mayor Charles Burkett said Monday his town is testing the air quality amid health concerns for first responders and residents following the collapse of a 12-story ocean-front condo tower.

Burkett told CNBC's "The News with Shepard Smith" that preliminary indications showed the air was not toxic. Those comments came after Burkett said Friday that "it is probably not safe to be here" when asked about the air quality.

After a meeting with an engineer and an air-quality specialist, "I came away feeling very good about breathing in all of that smoke and stuff that you and I were breathing in all day that day, because that was the worst day," Burkett said Monday. "I still have a little chest pain from inhaling all that smoke."

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Surfside mayor Charles Burkett on condo collapse as search for survivors continues

Burkett also told host Shepard Smith that the first responders tending to the collapse all had protective equipment. Last week, Smith asked Burkett whether the responders had such equipment after seeing some without face coverings.

To be sure, Florida Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis said in a separate interview on Monday that there have been instances in which some first responders were not wearing face coverings. "It kind of sometimes can be a little deceiving when they're on the pile, if they're in the open air, if they're working on moving large debris, there's a little more of a less-masked environment," Patronis told Smith.

Nearly 370 urban search and rescue members are working at the site. A team from the National Institute of Standards and Technology will investigate the collapse and identify and preserve materials that could explain what happened. As of Monday evening,150 people were still unaccounted for, and at least 11 people were confirmed dead in Surfside. 

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Tracking the rescue efforts at South Florida condo collapse