NEWINGTON - Four teens are being questioned by police about a roaring fire at a vacant pipe factory on Tilcon’s property on Hartford Avenue Thursday afternoon.
Smoke from the blaze at the old Capitol Pipe building in the area of Tilcon’s quarry could be seen for miles. The vacant building has been the scene of at least three other intentionally set blazes, Newington Fire Chief Chris Schroeder said.
“It’s a dangerous, dangerous building for kids to be in,” Schroeder said.
The building has no working utilities, he said. Numerous people called 911 and four teens were seen running in the area at around 1:30 p.m. when the blaze was reported, Schroeder said.
The teens were stopped and questioned by police, he said. After an intentionally set fire in the same old factory last year, Tilcon officials worked with the town to fence the property and secure the building, Schroeder said.
The three-story building, which rests toward Mountain Road on Tilcon’s property, has catwalks and conveyer belts and other hazards that can quickly lead to a tragedy, Schroeder said. “We’ve been working with them since last year,” he said. “The fence was compromised.”
According to a 2015 site plan correspondence written by the Balf Co., a sister company to Tilcon, both owned by CRH of Dublin, Ireland, to Newington Town Planner Craig Minor, the company planned to demolish two Capitol Pipe buildings between 2013 and 2017. It is unclear if the building involved in the fire was slated for razing.
With the closest fire hydrant on Hartford Avenue, firefighters had to connect a five-inch hose to a pumper truck that connected to a fire apparatus to battle the blaze from the outside. In all firefighters ran 3,600 feet of hose to spray water on the building and brought in tanker trucks from East Farmington and Tunxis Hose fire departments to assist in the effort.
More than 50 firefighters were on scene battling the blaze, Schroeder said. Since the building was vacant and possibly unstable, firefighters doused the flames from the outside, which took time because of the lack of water in the area.
But, Schroeder said, no one was injured fighting the fire, which took about two hours to get under control. At one point, a Tilcon excavator was used to knock portions of the building down to better get water on the flames, he said.
Staff writer Christopher Fortier contributed to this story.
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@newbritainherald.com.