the Willimantic Chronicle
WILLIMANTIC - No one was in the Willimantic Waste Paper Co. building that caught fire Sunday morning, but the building was expected to be a total loss.
Town of Windham spokesman Matthew Vertefeuille confirmed the situation regarding a massive inferno that was seen for miles around town.
While the building was a loss, the fact no one was injured served as a source of comfort to company officials Sunday.
Windham Town Council President Thomas DeVivo, who is a partner in the family business with his brothers, said he is thankful no one was hurt.
“God was by our side,” he said. “He protected our staff and our family. We will rebuild.”
DeVivo said the facility was their main headquarters, but there are operations at other Willimantic Waste facilities, including ones in Franklin and Plainfield.
According to the company’s website, the 1590 W. Main St. facility is the waste reduction and processing facility.
DeVivo said the plan is to move the operations from that facility to one of the company’s other facilities.
Willimantic Police Lt. Paul Hussey said the call came in at 10:13 a.m.
The fire created a large amount of smoke and drew many spectators.
Vertefeuille said in addition to Willimantic firefighters and police, firefighters from North Windham, South Windham, Windham Center, Columbia, Scotland, the University of Connecticut, Hebron and Baltic responded.
Other units were also called in, and Routes 66 and 32 were closed in the area.
Vertefeuille said the DeVivo family, who owns Willimantic Waste, were on scene.
He said it was only one building that caught fire and the old Chronicle building, which the DeVivo family recently purchased, did not catch fire.
“They did manage to get some equipment out of the building,” said Vertefeuille.
Windham Town Manager James Rivers said just after 3 p.m. that the cause of the fire had not been determined, but both local and state fire marshals were on scene.
Willimantic resident Ruby Rodriguez, who lives nearby and was watching the emergency responders from a nearby parking lot, said she was sleeping and woke up to “a lot of noise” in connection with the fire.
She said she saw a lot of smoke out the window.
Rodriguez said her father has been working for Willimantic Waste for about a year-and-a-half and was “shocked” that the fire happened at his place of employment.
The cause of this fire is still unknown, but fire crews - periodically - are called to the facility as, sometimes, refuse is ignited by sparks from the machinery.
One such fire occurred last August.