PHOTOS: Dozens of stored campers and cars exposed to thick smoke during Windsor Tech Park furnace fire

Firefighters rapidly contained the fire but oily smoke got everywhere

WINDSOR - A two-alarm fire at the Windsor Technology Park late Saturday morning did minimal damage to the giant buildings but nearly 300 vehicles that were being stored inside for the winter ranging from antique cars to giant tour-bus-sized RVs spent nearly two hours being suffused with thick oily black smoke.

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    “There is going to be extensive smoke damage,” to any number of vehicles, Windsor Fire Chief Kevin McAllister said at the scene.

    McAllister declined to even guess at the dollar value, saying “I can’t speak for the insurance companies.  That’s going to be their determination.”

Expensive RVs and campers slowly became visible inside the multi-story bays as the smoke cleared

    The incident began as a routine fire alarm activation that rang in to dispatchers shortly before 11 a.m. and indicated it was coming from the main office building of what was once the Cone Blanchard manufacturing company.

    The first engine crew at the scene found only a hint of smoke inside the multistory brick structure but as they walked into the larger metal-clad industrial buildings that interconnect their way down along Everett Street the smoke became noticeably thicker and they requested an upgrade to a general alarm.

    Chief McAllister said that once crews rounded the corner onto the north end of the complex where Coolidge Court, a cul-de-sac with a dozen homes, splits off from Everett Street they found smoke pushing out from behind two large roll-up doors on the end of the building.  Gaining entry, firefighters found heavy fire burning above them in an oil-fired furnace mounted on a mezzanine overlooking a hanger-like bay inside the former factory space.

    “That’s when we upgraded to the second alarm,” McAllister explained.  

    Engines and ladder trucks responded to help Windsor from West Windsor, Ascutney, Springfield, Hartland and Hartford while additional equipment that was already enroute from Reading, Meriden and Claremont ended up being cancelled as the situation came under control.

    “We turned them around quickly once determined the problem was isolated to the furnace and we started knocking down the fire,” the chief explained.

Windsor Fire Chief Kevin McAllister (green hoodie) was in command of the two-alarm incident

    Wally Osgood, the long-time manager of the buildings, said that currently 280 vehicles are stored inside the Tech Park and several additional spaces inside the complex are used by local companies such as WinCycle to store some of their equipment and supplies as well.

    “There are a hundred cars in here and all of them have gas in them,” Osgood noted.

    Osgood said the last serious fire at the facility was 30-years ago inside another furnace that has long-since been replaced but he said the furnace unit that caught fire Saturday is itself almost 50 years old.

Windsor Tech Park Manager Wally Osgood emerges from a smoky vehicle storage bay

    In addition to the smoke damage, there were also concerns about some Number 2 fuel oil which leaked from the damaged furnace out into the parking lot where firefighters placed absorbent pads and sausage-like “booms” down in an effort to keep it from spreading into nearby drains and a creek bordering the property.

    Chief McAllister said Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources had been advised of the spillage and he said the Tech Park would have to bring in an environmental contractor to complete the clean up.

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