The trestle wood was treated with a tarry substance known as creosote. That’s why the smoke was so thick and black and may have been more irritating than simple wood smoke. But Sam Delson with the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment says the smoke didn’t threaten public safety.
"It was certainly a dramatic site. However, although there were some elevated levels of carcinogens and particulate matter, the elevated levels are not expected to result in any overall increased risk of cancer."
Delson says there was no increase in emergency room admissions associated with the fire. The study concludes that the people most vulnerable to the smoke had pre-existing problems such as asthma and that the health effects were about the same as from a wildland fire. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.