Fresno is California’s fifth largest city, with an estimated population of over 509,000 residents. Located in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, 200 miles north of Los Angeles, Fresno got its start as a railroad town in 1872 and has a diversified economy dominated by health care, agriculture, food processing, and the entertainment. The city not only has a long history of industrialized use of asbestos, but it’s also the county seat of Fresno County, the site of various naturally-occurring asbestos deposits. In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated two heavily-contaminated asbestos mines in Fresno County as Superfund sites.
Currently, over $30 billion is available in trust funds for victims of asbestos. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may qualify for a substantial amount of compensation. We invite you to fill out our form today for a free Financial Compensation Packet, filled with information about top Fresno asbestos lawyers, how to get paid in 90 days, how to file an asbestos trust fund claim, and much more.
History of Asbestos Use in Fresno
Fresno was founded in 1872 by the Central Pacific Railroad as a train station next to a wheat field owned by Anthony Easterby. The city grew around a core formed by the railroad station and several stores as settlers from other parts of the country moved into the area. Fresno took its name from both the Spanish word for ash tree and from Fresno County, which was established in 1856 and was larger than it is today. In 1874, voters decided to move the county seat to Fresno, which became an incorporated city in 1885.
The earliest structures built in Fresno were made mostly from wood. This made the city vulnerable to devastating fires. The worst fire to affect Fresno occurred in 1882 and burned down an entire city block. The following year, another fire broke out and caused additional loss of property. As a result, most new structures built after the 1880s used sturdier construction materials such as bricks. cement, and concrete; often, locally-available asbestos was added to these materials to make them more resistant to fire and heat.
By the beginning of the 20th Century, Fresno had many of the amenities of a modernized and growing American city. Electricity was in wide use by 1890, the year in which Fresno’s first streetcars became operational. As immigrants from Europe and Asia moved into the city and the surrounding San Joaquin Valley, the first streetcar suburbs were created. By the early 1930s, Fresno’s streetcar system spanned over 49 miles of track.
The influx of new residents, which included immigrants from Armenia, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Scandinavia, necessitated the construction of new homes, businesses, and power plants.
The 1940s ushered in many changes to the area, especially after America’s entry into World War II. Fresno’s Japanese-American citizens were forcibly relocated to internment camps far away from California from 1942 until the war ended in 1945. The federal government set up two camps in the Fresno area as temporary holding areas for the internees: the Fresno Assembly Center and the Pinedale Assembly Center. Most of Fresno’s Japanese-American residents returned to the area at war’s end and contributed to its growth and development.
After the war, Fresno grew in size and population, due in part to the economic booms of the late 1940s and early 1950s. As more people moved into the San Joaquin Valley, large tracts of agricultural land became urbanized. Fresno’s economy became less dependent on agriculture and diversified into such fields as financing, healthcare, and food processing. One of the most significant developments that resulted from this diversification occurred in the fall of 1958. That’s when California-based Bank of America created BankAmericard (now Visa), the country’s first successful credit card, in Fresno.
Fresno’s transition from a frontier town to becoming California’s largest inland city took place at the same time that asbestos was a staple of American industry. For nearly a century, construction companies, power plants, and various transportation related enterprises used substantial amounts of asbestos and asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). As in other American communities, most of the houses, apartment buildings, commercial centers, and industrial facilities built between 1930 and 1979 either have or had many component parts made from asbestos.
In addition, Fresno is located in an area rich with naturally-occurring asbestos deposits (NOAs). According to the EPA, two abandoned job sites in Fresno County, the Atlas and Coalinga Asbestos Mines, are so contaminated that they are designated as Superfund sites.
Fresno County Superfund Sites: Atlas and Coaling Asbestos Mines
Per the EPA, the Atlas Asbestos Mine operated from 1963 to 1979 on a large site near Coalinga, California, which is 62 miles away from Fresno. The Atlas facility included the mine, a processing mill, support buildings, and other related structures. Large amounts of extracted asbestos minerals and processed ACMs passed through Coalinga and were distributed throughout Fresno County, the San Joaquin Valley and other parts of the state.
Additionally, the separate Coalinga Asbestos Mine occupied a 107-acre section of Coalinga and was used as an asbestos milling, processing, storage, and distribution center. The facility was also used as a dumping ground for asbestos contaminated pipes and mining waste by the owners of the Atlas Asbestos Mine and the U.S. Asbestos Company. The EPA declared these two job sites as Superfund cleanup sites in September of 1984.
Other Fresno Job Sites and Businesses Associated with Asbestos
Fresno’s origins as a railroad town and the use of asbestos in various industries, combined with the existence of NOA deposits in the hills and mountains that surround the San Joaquin Valley, create a legacy of both active and abandoned job sites which are known to contain dangerous asbestos materials. Some sites, including a derelict Del Monte packinghouse in downtown Fresno, are being torn down to make way for California’s high-speed rail system. Workers are using demolition methods designed to prevent an accidental release of asbestos fibers into the environment.
Schools, Public Buildings, and Hospitals
- California State University
- Fresno City College
- USCF Fresno
- Glen Agnes Senior Housing
- Saint Agnes Hospital
- Fresno Youth Center
- Fresno Convention Center
- Fresno County Courthouse
Plants and Power Companies
- Pacific Gas and Electric Light Company
- Warrick Electric Company
- Anderson-Clayton Oil Plant
Additional Job Sites and Businesses
- Plaskett Construction Company
- E & J Gallo Winery
- Fresno Distributing Company
- Fresno Linen Service
- Montgomery Ward
- Red Star Industrial Service
- R.L. O’Neil Construction
- Robert Harper Construction
- Sears & Roebuck
Medical Help Near Fresno
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, or other serious medical conditions caused by exposure to asbestos, there are several medical facilities in the Fresno area that offer cancer treatment and support services.
California Cancer Center
7257 N. Fresno Street
Fresno, CA 93720
Phone: (559) 447-4050
Cancer Care Associates
1791 E Fir Ave.
Fresno, CA 93720
Phone: (559) 326-1222
Saint Agnes Cancer Center
7130 N. Millbrook Ave.
Fresno, CA 93720
Phone: (559) 450-5500
Fresno Cancer Center
7887 N. Cedar Ave.
Fresno, CA 93720
Phone: (559) 437-1000
Legal Help in Fresno and Additional Information
Keep in mind that you may be eligible for compensation if you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis. Don’t forget to fill out our form to get our free Financial Compensation Packet, filled with information on the leading asbestos and mesothelioma attorneys in your area.