Firefighters from three of Newtown’s volunteer companies provided mutual aid to Southbury Volunteer Fireman’s Association early Friday morning. A team made up of officers and firefighters from Botsford, Hook & Ladder, and Sandy Hook responded with two pieces of apparatus to the neighboring town, where other firefighters were already on the scene of a factory fire at 1200 Main Street South. Newtown Fire Marshal Bill Halstead believes 15 firefighters from town responded this morning.
Newtown’s firefighters were dispatched around 5:20 am for what was described as a fully involved structure fire. Those responding from Newtown formed a Rapid Intervention Team (RIT), to serve as a firefighter search and rescue team if needed.
Flames were seen in a few places through areas of the roof and eaves when the Newtown crew arrived in Southbury. One fire and billowing black smoke were visible from the center interior portion of the building.
Mr Halstead, who also serves as the chief of Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue, was also in Southbury for part of the call.
“There was fire coming through the roof when we got there,” he said early Friday afternoon. “It seemed like it was the center area of the building, behind what looks like offices.”
He was unsure what time the fire was reported, but believes it was not long into the incident that Southbury put out the call for additional help.
“As we were responding to the firehouse,” to get the trucks and head to Southbury, said Chief Halstead, “some of their trucks were responding. I think they called for us right away.”
Oxford fire crews were also at the fire, said Chief Halstead. Woodbury had a crew on standby at Southbury’s Center Station.
“Our ladder, and Southbury’s ladder, started pouring water on the building,” Chief Halstead said. In addition to its ladder truck, Sandy Hook also sent one of its engines.
“Southbury was on the front of the building, off Hollow Swamp,” said Chief Halstead. Firefighters were on an offensive attack of the fire, inside the factory, but temporarily pulled out of the building once the ladders were ready to start dumping water on the fire.
Some of the Newtown firefighters relieved the first round of firefighters in the building, but none had to act as RIT.
“The RIT team was there, they were going around making sure there was access, to be there if they needed go in,” said Chief Halstead. “But they never called for the team. No one became entrapped.”
A post on Southbury First Selectman Ed Edelson’s Facebook page early Friday afternoon indicated there were no injuries reported due to the fire.
An online database lists the property as light industrial, with its main building measuring 40,120 square feet and constructed in 1968. It is located on the corner of Main Street South and Hollow Swamp Road. The closest residence about 140 yards to the building’s north, on Hollow Swamp Road. The closest business is about 90 yards to the south, across South Main Street.
Chief Halstead said neither of those buildings seemed to be in danger of the fire.
Long known as Romatic Manufacturing Company, the property was sold in 2012 to Tricy LLC.
The fire was knocked down shortly after 8. Newtown’s team returned to town around 8:30.
“The fire was out by the time our guys left,” Chief Halstead said around noon Friday. “They’re doing their investigation at this time.”
Southbury’s First Selectman referenced the on-scene analysis in his Facebook post. “A major investigation is underway to try to determine the cause,” due to the size of the fire and the number of workers displaced, his statement said in part.
A call to Southbury Fire Marshal Barry Rickert for additional comments was not immediately returned.