Danger disappearing after quarry fire

BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The worst of the danger appears to be over after fire broke out at Branford’s Stony Creek Quarry Thursday, forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate.

“We know it’s going to be smoldering for at least several days,” Branford Deputy Fire Chief John Masci told News 8.

A front-loader dropped dirt and sand on the last of open flames nearly a full day after a huge fire broke out at Stony Creek Quarry in Branford. The quarry is on town land, leased by Stony Creek Quarry Corporation and two other companies that store explosives.

“Representatives from J&J Blasting were burning the cardboard boxes that the explosives came in, and that’s required by regulation that they burn those boxes, and as they burned those boxes a small portion of the mats became ignited,” said Chief Shaun Heffernan, Branford Fire Asst. Chief and Fire Marshal.

Specifically, blast mats of old tires and steel, used to contain and control flying rock debris during blasting.

“When we arrived the fire was quite large at that point,” said Chief Heffernan.

A little bit of smoldering can still be seen from yesterday’s fire. Imagine the concern, considering the proximity to two magazines where explosives are stored.

“We had one of our members fly their aerial drone over the area to get some video, to let us know how close in proximity to the magazines,” said Chief Heffernan. “Once we determined that we were about 30 feet away from the magazines we were able to bring fire apparatus here, up to extinguish the fire.”

That drone deployment was a creative precaution, one the department now hopes to equip itself with going forward.

“They are being used around the country, and it’s something we had planned in our budget process, for next year,” the Chief said. “Whether we move that a little bit forward, that’s a very big possibility at this point.”

Branford Fire will continue monitoring the scene for possible flare-ups while federal investigators do their work.

“We’ve cleared any other combustibles away from the area, to let this smolder for probably a good couple days,” Chief Heffernan said.

Click here to check out our on-the-scene photo gallery of the quarry fire.

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