Huge Fire Destroys CT Waste Facility

Tuesday, January 30, 2018 @ 02:01 PM gHale

A day after a massive fire broke out at a Connecticut waste and recycling plant, the blaze has been declared under control.

A waste plant fire that sent up dense plumes of smoke, forcing school and road closures, and injuring a firefighter, was declared under control Monday at least 20 hours after it started in Willimantic, CT, officials said.

The destructive fire at Willimantic Waste Paper Co. has been declared under control, which means it is not expected to spread any further, Windham Fire Chief Marc Scrivener said. It will take days to completely extinguish, he said.

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As of early Monday morning, the smoke was not considered to be toxic, although workers from the state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection are monitoring the air “to make sure the smoke that is leaving the scene is safe,” Scrivener said.

Up to 200 firefighters spent hours Sunday battling the blaze, which officials said went to four alarms. One firefighter had to be treated for exhaustion, and town schools, as well as Eastern Connecticut State University, closed Monday.

Part of Route 32 remains closed, according to the state police, as is the bridge on Boston Post Road at the Willimantic/North Windham line, said Willimantic 911. In addition, the state judicial branch said the juvenile court near the fire scene on Columbia Avenue is closed.

The fire started around 10:13 a.m. in a 50-ton stockpile of wood, plaster and construction debris at Willimantic Waste Paper, a family-owned business that collects and processes garbage, recyclables and construction debris in Tolland, Hartford, Middlesex, Windham and New London counties, according to the company’s website. The company employs 350 people.

Nearly 12 fire departments assisted with the fire, as are local agencies like the Windham Police Department and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, authorities said.

Officials said they do not believe anyone was in the building when the fire broke out, but two people — including the firefighter — were transported to Windham Hospital and assessed for exhaustion and light-headedness.

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