WILLIMANTIC, Conn. — Smoke from a fire at a Connecticut waste and recycling company could be seen for so many miles that it was showing up on weather radar of local television stations Fire officials were at the scene Sunday of a Willimantic Waste Paper Company blaze and could be for several days, they said. About a dozen fire departments responded around 10:15 a.m.
Flames were shooting from the facility and smoke could be seen for several miles, witnesses said. There were no immediate reports of injuries and officials said it appears nobody was inside the facility when the blaze began. Jeff Chandler, head of the emergency response team for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said residents downwind from the facility were being urged to stay inside Sunday with the windows and doors closed to avoid the smoke.
Chandler said DEEP crews are monitoring the air and any water runoff into the nearby Willimantic River, but do not believe they are dealing with any asbestos or other hazardous materials. Several roads in the area were closed to traffic for hours. Willimantic Waste Paper is a family-owned company that provides trash pickup and recycling services in eastern Connecticut and has been in business for more than 60 years, according to its website. It’s located about 30 miles outside Hartford. It employs about 200 people.
The 100,000 square-foot facility is used to process construction debris and garbage, but officials said most of what burned was construction-related and there was very little garbage in the building at the time of the fire. The building, which did have a working sprinkler system and was up to code, will have to be demolished, officials said.