Raging inferno ravages former Fairfield Lumber warehouses
Firefighters were still pouring water on the smoking ruins of the former Fairfield Lumber yard Wednesday morning, as the Fire Marshal's office began investigating the Tuesday night blaze that swept through the property at the end of Thorpe Street.
All of the town's on-duty firefighters, assisted by crews from several nearby communities battled the flames -- which generated billowing clouds of smoke visible for miles -- over several hours. The fire, first reported shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday, was declared under control about 10 p.m., but firefighters remained on scene hours later to ensure the blaze did not re-ignite.
No injuries were reported.
The property is owned by 185 Thorpe Street Corp., and Terrance McClinch is listed as the president and director. There is $17,843 in taxes and interest still owed on the 2014 tax bill, according to the Tax Collector's Office.
A proposal to build a 65-unit condominium project on the project several years ago was rejected by the Town Plan and Zoning Commission.
Among the reasons zoning officials cited rejecting the proposed condo development in 2013 was what they said was no plan to clean up contamination from the longtime commercial site that spread to a nearby town-owned tract.
Although the property was a lumber yard many years, the property most recently was leased by United Rentals, a business that leased heavy equipment. Prior to that, it was McClinch Equipment.
On Tuesday, the first firefighters arriving at the scene, just off the busy downtown intersection of Post and Mill Plain roads, reported the fire erupted in the southernmost warehouse structure. The property has not been an active lumber business for years.
Before the fire could be contained, flames spread to two more former warehouses at the center and northern area of the property, according to the fire report.
Assistant Fire Chief Erik Kalapir was the scene commander, later joined at the site by Chief Richard Felner and Deputy Chief Kyran Dunn. Police were also dispatched to the scene, along with personnel from the Fire Marshal and Master Mechanic offices, Building and Conservation departments, the Southport and Stratfield volunteer fire units, AMR ambulance, American Red Cross, United Illuminating and Aquarion.
Firefighters from Bridgeport, Westport, Norwalk, Easton and Stratford also helped fight the fire and provided backup coverage for the rest of town while the fire raged.
A Bridgeport fire truck was just around the corner from the site at St. Thomas Church, where the Bridgeport Area Retired Firefighters' Mass was being conducted, and it was quickly pressed into service.
Cause of the fire was not immediately known.