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WWII-era blimp hangar's partial collapse triggers helium leak

October 07, 2013|By Adolfo Flores and Don Bartletti

A portion of the roof of a World War II-era blimp hangar in Tustin collapsed early Monday, damaging a $35-million experimental zeppelin and triggering a helium leak.

Employees at the hangar were evacuated and a hazardous material teams was working to contain the leak, Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi said.

"We had a collapse of a large section and it fell onto a blimp that caused damage," Concialdi said. He said the incident was reported at 7:45 a.m.

The extent of the damage was unknown and the cause has not been determined,  Concialdi said. There were no reports of injuries.

The damaged blimp was identified as an Aeroscraft zeppelin, an airship made of aluminum and carbon fiber that its builders says represents a new type of "hybrid" aircraft that combines airplane and airship technologies.

The experimental version of a cargo-hauling airship is being built by Worldwide Aeros Corp.

Worldwide Aeros declined to immediately comment on the damage.

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Twitter: @AdolfoFlores3

adolfo.flores@latimes.com

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