Massive fire under control at Willimantic Waste Paper Co., area schools closed

Flames rip through a building in Willimantic on Sunday. (Photo Courtesy: Matthew Vertefeuille/Report-It)

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. (WTNH)– The massive fire at a waste paper company in Willimantic was brought under control by 6:00 a.m. Monday, according to officials. However, area schools were closed and neighbors were advised to stay inside.

The blaze sparked around 10 a.m. Sunday and continued through the day and night.

img 1367 Massive fire under control at Willimantic Waste Paper Co., area schools closed
Crews say they expect to be battling a fire in Willimantic through Sunday night. (Photo: J.P. Coleman/WTNH)

Large plumes of smoke could be seen for miles Sunday. Fourteen area fire departments came to help Willimantic put out the flames at the Willimantic Waste Paper Company.

Original Story: Willimantic Waste Paper Co. fire expected to burn through Sunday night

Just to give you an idea of how large it is, crews say 400 tons of paper and construction materials fit in the facility which is almost as big as two football fields.

That material provided fuel for the fire. The clean-up continued throughout Monday.

“It really is just a matter of pulling the equipment, pulling the debris rather out of the building with the heavy equipment and cooling it down,” said Willimantic Fire Chief Marc Scrivener.

The run-off is causing some contamination of the nearby Willimantic River.

“DEEP fisheries division is inspecting the river at some point today to determine whether or not there is any adverse reaction as a result of the impact to the water,” said Jeff Chandler with the Connecticut Department Of Energy And Environmental Protection (DEEP).

Related Content: Local diner helps crews as the Willimantic fire burns 24 hours later

There were initial concerns about air quality when the rubber membrane on the roof burned, but with much of the smoke cleared by the south-blowing wind, schools cancelled Monday will reopen Tuesday. Officials with DEEP are now saying this smoke is only health risk for those with respiratory problems.

Firefighters are also taking precautions.

“They’re getting hosed down, they’re getting scrubbed down with chemicals that are getting rid of all the caustic agents,” said Lt. Reginald Hansen of the New London Fire Department.

New London firefighters are running the decontamination system.

“Anything that burns leaves a residue that is potentially cancer-causing and so we want to make sure that our firefighters don’t take that off the scene,” said Chief Scrivener.

The fire won’t interrupt trash collection. About 200 people work at the facility and they still went to work.

“They left here at 5:00 a.m. this morning with their garbage trucks. They’re going to be taking it to a different facility to sort the garbage and reload it and they’ll continue doing that until they get a new facility is up and running here,” said Matt Vertefeuille, Spokesperson for the town of Windham.

Public schools were closed Monday, as well as Eastern Connecticut State University.

One worker and one firefighter were taken to Willimantic Hospital with minor injuries.

0128181054 hdr Massive fire under control at Willimantic Waste Paper Co., area schools closed
Flames rip through a building in Willimantic on Sunday. (Photo Courtesy: Matthew Vertefeuille/Report-It)

WTNH NEWS8 provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Also, you can now block any inappropriate user by simple selecting the drop down menu on the right of any comment and selection "Block User" from there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s