NEW BRITAIN - A man was taken to a hospital with burns to his face after several vehicles caught fire at an auto shop Wednesday afternoon.
The fire was reported around 5:20 p.m.
The injured man was working on a car at Auto Repair & Sale, 66 St. Clair Ave., when it caught fire, Fire Chief Raul Ortiz said. The extent of his burns was not immediately clear, Ortiz said.
Because vehicles were parked close together on the lot, the fire spread to others, Ortiz said. Five vehicles showed visible fire damage, including a minivan burned nearly entirely through, a Lexus sedan and three other sedans.
Three other vehicles close by, including a Dodge SUV, a minivan and a Nissan sedan, most likely were damaged, too, Ortiz said.
“All these vehicles were affected to some degree,” Ortiz said.
Geovanni Martinez said he was unloading tires across the street at Carstar, where he works, and started seeing smoke everywhere.
Lynn McCormick said she was at Stop & Shop on Fenn Road heading for Walgreens and thought the blaze was coming from the nearby Newington Tower apartments, where she lives. She decided to skip the drug store, check her building and go down St. Clair Avenue to see what was going on.
Because two of the cars’ gas tanks were compromised in the fire, gasoline was leaking and catching fire on the water that was flowing down the hill of the parking lot and into the street.
The Fire Department response included several engines as a precaution because of the car fires’ proximity to the auto shop itself..
Fire crews had to douse the flames from different angles. They avoided using firefighting foam, which has come under scrutiny recently for contaminating waterways, Ortiz said.
Sand was used to help prevent any gasoline from getting into sewer drains, Ortiz added.
The fires are being investigated by the Fire Marshal’s Office. Footage from surveillance cameras on the building will be reviewed, Ortiz said.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.