CONCERNS have been raised after asbestos from a house damaged in a fatal fire was found in neighbouring gardens.

Residents of South Magdalene in Medomsley, near Consett, fear the deadly substance could affect the future health of their grandchildren.

They claim the roof cavity was left open for weeks and more should have been done to protect the community from the risk.

Dave Wear, 62, said: “My sister died of asbestos-related cancers which she contracted 12 to 15 years ago.

“I am concerned because of the release of asbestos around my house, not so much for me, but for my children and grandchildren, who play in the garden.

“Hopefully, they have not been affected, but this material has been outside getting blown around.

“Ten to 15 years down the line this could affect my grandchildren and neighbours’ children who have playing out amongst it.”

Fire broke out Mr Wear’s neighbours’ house on February10 this year and claimed the life of 73-year-old Valerie Merritt.

Derwentside Homes has been carrying out repairs on the property.

Another neighbour, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “I phoned up and complained because the asbestos should have been covered up to stop it blowing all over. It has been awful.”

Mr Wear, who lives at the house with his wife and son, has complained to the Health and Safety Executive and commissioned an independent report to confirm the substance.

He said the tests proved the substance contained amosite, a particularly hazardous form of asbestos. “It is deeply worrying,” he added.

Steve Melvin, director of operations at Derwentside Homes, said: “Throughout this project we were aware that asbestos containing material was present and we had engaged specialist consultants and contractors who informed the HSE appropriately.

“Material was contained and cleared from our property as quickly as possible given the constraints of working in a severely fire damaged property.

“Works to complete the roof repairs have started this week and we’d like to thank Mr Wear for bearing with us during this work and apologise again to him for any inconvenience and upset caused.”