January 06, 2002 11:00 pm

By The Observer

Tektoniks of Walla Walla has taken out a demolition permit to begin tearing down the remains of a burned-out house in La Grande containing asbestos.

The house, at Gekeler Lane and 20th Street, burned Aug. 18. Two youths who had been setting off fireworks in a grass field, which is part of the property, were cited when the fire spread to the house and an adjacent garage.

Demolition could start any day now, said La Grande Planning Director Mike Hyde.

The two-story frame house, a detached two-car garage, a shed and another smaller outbuilding were burned.

Of the buildings that ignited, only the charred, gutted house remained standing, although its roof caved in. A barn on the lot which stretches along Gekeler from 20th to 18th Street was saved when firefighters doused the burning grass as flames approached the structure.

At the time of the fire, the property was on the market for sale at $230,000. The house was vacant.

Investigators found on Oct. 12 that there was asbestos-containing material in part of the remains of the house. In several areas of the exterior, shattered cement asbestos siding was exposed, inspectors said. The material was covered by a plastic liner secured to the house by an industrial-strength adhesive to hold it in place until the material is removed.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality inspector Tom Hack said the cement siding contained 15 percent asbestos, by weight in the chrysotile form.

That much asbestos is an open accumulation of a friable asbestos-containing material and is a violation of Oregon Administrative Rules, Hack said.

Friable material is that which is easily crumbled or reduced to powder.

The citys ordinance gives the owner of a burned-out building 120 days to clean up the site, but the owners received a 30-day extension when the initial period passed.

The demolition company secured the permit Thursday to demolish the building.