Firefighters battle tough blaze in Beacon Falls

BEACON FALLS — Firefighters faced their share of challenges as they battled a blaze at a warehouse on Rimmon Hill Road through the night and into the morning Thursday.

Beacon Hose Co. No. 1 responded to 234 Rimmon Hill Road after a neighbor reported the fire at about 2:35 a.m., said Kyle Brennan, a spokesman for Beacon Hose.

When firefighters arrived on the scene, Beacon Hose Chief Brian DeGeorge said flames were coming through the roof in the central area of the building.

“We knew it was used for storage and it wasn’t occupied at the time,” said DeGeorge, who is also the town’s fire marshal.

DeGeorge said firefighters set up a defensive attack to contain the fire as they fought to extinguish it.

DeGeorge said the fire burned for three to four hours before firefighters got it under control. As of 8 a.m. Thursday, smoke still billowed from charred remains inside the warehouse as officials prepared to dismantle the building, which is a total loss. Firefighters remained on the scene to take care of any flare ups.

There were no injuries reported. Rimmon Hill Road remained closed between Back Rimmon Road and West Road Thursday morning.

Extinguishing the fire proved a challenge for a couple of reasons. First, there are no fire hydrants in the area.

DeGeorge said firefighters hit the fire quickly using Beacon Hose’s tanker truck, which holds 2,500 gallons of water.

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With mutual aid from Seymour, Oxford, Bethany, Southbury and Prospect, firefighters established a tanker task force and shuttled water to the scene from Route 67 in Oxford. The tankers dumped the water into three portable ponds — tarps with metal frames that hold about 3,000 gallons of water — at the scene, Brennan said.

DeGeorge said the tankers, which carry an average of 2,500 gallons, made 75 trips total.

The building itself posed another problem. The building is a former meat-packing facility.

“So, it’s well insulated and built very sturdily,” said Brennan, adding the cinderblock walls and rubber roof were thick.

Brennan said it was tough to attack the fire coming through the roof at first. He compared it to a game of Whack-A-Mole, when firefighters attacked one spot on the roof flames popped up somewhere else.

The meat-packing facility closed in the mid-1980s, and the building is used now for storage and some flower sales, officials said. The owner of the property is listed as Joann A. Reilly, who also owns the home next door, according to town records.

Inside the vacant building, Brennan said, were many wooden pallets, debris and old insulation that served as fuel for the fire.

Investigators with the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Beacon Falls Fire Marshal’s Office are investigating the cause of the fire.

As firefighters got a chance to catch their breath Thursday morning, DeGeorge said he couldn’t say enough about their effort.

“These guys are beat right now, but they hit it hard. … These guys did a great job,” he said.