Fire out, cleanup continues in Torrington - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Fire out, cleanup continues in Torrington

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A fire truck remained at the scene of a massive fire all night long after more than 150 firefighters battled the four-alarm blaze at a Torrington tire warehouse for more than 12 hours.

Firefighters said the Toce Tire Warehouse building, which held more than 100 tires, was reported burning on the corner of Taylor and Albert streets around 8 a.m. Thursday. 

Roads around the fire scene were blocked off all day causing traffic headaches throughout town.  

At this hour the area directly around the fire scene in the area of New Litchfield Street, Taylor Street and Albert are still closed, but most other roads have reopened.

"Just smoke galore and flames and everything," said Torrington resident Ernie Rose.

More than 1 million gallons of water had to be used to douse the flames.

Rose said he knew the owners of the warehouse. He said the Toce brothers have been in business for decades.

"He's a very nice gentleman and I hate to see this happen to the business," he said.

About 50 residences and 100 people in the area were evacuated as a precautionary measure.

"The smoke was going right over my house. They were talking about evacuating. I was very nervous," said witness Mindy Hobson.

Mayor Elinor Carbone asked everyone who was not evacuated in Torrington "to stay inside and close their windows."

"Carbon monoxide, you really don't want to be breathing it in. So we asked everyone to stay in their homes," Torrington Fire Chief Gary Brunoli said.

No one was hurt and people were able to return to their homes around 7:30 p.m., according to police.

On Thursday night, the only concern was the water after the air tested out to be safe. State officials said water runoff was impacting the Naugatuck River.

Firefighters said an extremely minor sheen and some solid debris were in the water. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection deployed booms to stop it at spots along the Naugatuck River.

"Environmentally, it's very low risk so far as far as aquatic toxicity is concerned," said Jeff Chandler with CT DEEP.

When a tire fire breaks out, the tires break down into hazardous compounds. The average tire is estimated to produce more than 2 gallons of oil, so that means hundreds and hundreds of gallons were mixed in with the runoff water used to fight this blaze. 

Witnesses reported seeing smoke from as far away as New Britain.

Firefighters told Eyewitness News that they expect to be on the scene into the night and that much of the building has been destroyed.

The weather worked in favor of the firefighters. 

"It's a nice day out so the smoke has lifted," Brunoli said. "A day like tomorrow with the clouds hanging low, we'd rather have it go up and the wind push it away."

The South West Elementary School said it canceled afternoon kindergarten. Its morning kindergarten would remain at the school until its afternoon dismissal time.

Certain bus routes for all but Forbes Elementary School in town were "inaccessible" because of the warehouse fire. 

Affected schools were being asked to keep children at school or have parents pick them up. Messages were being sent out directly to parents.

It's unclear how many of the 4,500 children in the district were impacted.

The task of cleaning up the mangled pile of metal left behind is expected to begin Friday morning.

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