Fire leads to long clean up at Conn. chemical warehouse

Connecticut Post Online

FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Fire struck a chemical warehouse off the Post Road in the Southport section of town early Thursday, requiring an hours-long hazardous materials cleanup at the business.

No one was hurt despite heavy flames that erupted shortly before 2 a.m. in a storage warehouse at Superior Plating Co., 1480 Post Road, corner of Lacey Place, and officials said initial tests show there was no significant environmental impact from the fire.

Firefighters poured large amounts of water on the fire for about two hours to neutralize the chemicals.

Assistant Fire Chief George Gomola said the heavy dousing is the way to attack a fire involving several different types of chemicals.

"What made this fire difficult is that some of the chemicals are water reactive," he added.

Two drums in particular contained chemicals used to treat ground water. Once hit with water, the chemicals began decomposing and generating heat, which then began melting the metal drums.

"The cleanup could possibly take several days," Gomola said.

Cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

Members of the Fire Department's Haz-Mat team working with employees of Connecticut Tank, an environmental remediation company, continued the cleanup Thursday in the aftermath of the fire.

Superior Planting produces chrome and nickle products used to treat and coat metals. The warehouse was built from concrete block, which remained intact.

The flames, reported to the Fire Department about 1:45 a.m. by a passing motorist, were blue and green, indicating the presence of the chemicals including magnesium oxide, according to firefighters.

Fairfield Engines 1, 2, 4 and 5; Ladder 2, Rescue 1 and Car 3 were dispatched to the scene, assisted by the Fairfield County Hazardous Materials Team, crews from the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Fairfield Fire Haz-Mat trailer.

The Post Road between River Street and Sasco Hill Road was closed until 6 a.m., but no evacuation of nearby residents was required.

Mutual-aid from fire companies in Bridgeport and Westport was ready to provide standby coverage. United Illuminating and Southern Connecticut Gas Co. crews also reported to the scene.

In an unrelated incident just before 7 p.m. Wednesday, firefighters were dispatched to douse a fire in an 18-wheel trailer truck at the southbound rest area of Interstate 95 here.

Fire erupted in the truck's rear wheel area, threatening to extend to the trailer, which was hauling wood pallets, cardboard and dried foods. Firefighters from Engine 2 and 4 extinguished the blaze with water before it could burn into the trailer.

Assistant Chief Stephen Curry estimated $5,000 damage to the truck's rear wheels and the trailer's deck. Initial indication is that the fire was caused by heat generated in the brakes or rear axle, he said.

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