Massive CT Factory Fire Forces Evac

Friday, November 13, 2015 @ 04:11 PM gHale

Firefighters spent nearly 24 hours battling a massive fire that destroyed a manufacturing plant in Glastonbury, Connecticut and forced several families to evacuate as concerns arose the smoke pouring into the air could contain toxic gases, like carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide.

The plant, Preferred Display, makes cosmetic displays and firefighters arrived on the scene 11:30 a.m. Wednesday and found massive flames coming from the old mill building built in the 1800s.

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It took around three hours for firefighters to put out the blaze, but crews remained on the scene for 24 hours to put out hot spots.

As of Thursday morning, most of the building had collapsed and firefighters said they plan to bring in an excavator to move debris and put out any hot spots that continue to smolder.

Crews from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will also return to the scene to conduct air quality tests to ensure the air is safe to breathe.

The department remained concerned the burning plastic inside the building could break down into toxic gases, said Jeff Chandler, emergency response unit supervisor for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).

“They bring in sheets of the poly-acrylic, cut that and use it in the work that they use for building the display cases,” Chandler said. “Fortunately, we’re not dealing with raw chemicals here. We’re just dealing with the poly-acrylic. The byproducts of combustion of that are somewhat hazardous as far as inhalation.”

Residents of about a half dozen homes near the factory ended up evacuated Wednesday, but have since returned home.

All 75 employees who were in the building when the fire started managed to escape and no injuries ended up reported.

As DEEP tests for air quality, the fire marshal is looking to determine what started the fire.

The factory was operating at the time of the blaze and some employees thought the fire alarm going off was just a drill at first.

“Everyone is yelling, ‘Get out the building, get out of the building, get out of the building’. Sure enough I get out and see it’s not a drill,” said Geoff Kasuga, of Colchester.

Another employee, Dan Piotrowski said “everybody was trying to find their friends, stay with the group, try to stay calm because everybody was kind of freaking out over the whole thing because nobody expects that to happen.”

Adjacent factory Quality Name Plate was also open at the time and firefighters wanted to ensure the flames didn’t spread to next door. The other factory did not suffer any damage.

Glastonbury Preferred Display Fire Officials from the company’s headquarters in New Jersey said right now they remain focused on the safety of the workers and haven’t talked yet about what will happen to the jobs and the plant in the future.

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