ESSEX — Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman in an official statement on Jan. 16 praised area firefighters for quelling on Jan. 6, “one of the worst and longest burning fires in Essex in decades,” which occurred at the Calamari Recycling Co. Inc. at 20, Dump Rd., in Essex. In an article by Karena Garrity published Jan. 12 in the weekly Valley Courier newspaper and on Zip06.com, it was reported that to tame the blaze, “it was estimated that more than 150 firefighters from more than 15 different fire departments,” were on the scene.
In his statement published on the Town of Essex’s website, Needleman praised, “The rapid and well organized response from Essex Firefighters, Police and Public Works, as well as mutual aid efforts of firefighters from other towns. These highly trained individuals worked together like a well-oiled machine throughout, even when exhaustion set in.” Needleman added, “Services from in and out of our Town came to our rescue and helped to minimize the impact of this fire. The Town of Essex can’t thank you all enough.”
Over a dozen fire departments from the surrounding area played a role in extinguishing the fire at the Calamari scrap metal recycling facility, and it took over 24 hours for the firefighting units ultimately to quell the blaze.
Although there were no reports of injuries as a result of the fire, the Valley Courier newspaper article reported that flames at the facility, “created thick billows of clouds of smoke for several days, causing town and school officials in the area to take precautions in regard to air quality conditions.” The Valley Courier also reported, “Student at Essex Elementary School were held inside for recess on Jan. 7 and 8 to ensure safety, and the Department of Environment and Energy Protection visited the area to conduct air quality testing, ”which turned out to be in the safe quality range.”
According to the Valley Courier’s report, “The fire started in the construction and demolition debris building, one of the four buildings on the Calamari Recycling property,” and that, “the cause of the fire was thought to be a spark from a cardboard bailer.” Also reported in the article was that, “Essex firefighters as well as members of the Essex Public Works Department stayed on the scene for 28 straight hours.”
In addition, the Essex Public Works Department set up a warming center for firefighters and supplied more than 500 gallons of diesel fuel to tanks for the engines that were on the scene.
The fire on Jan. 6 at the recycling facility was the “the worst fires in 60 years,” according to a Calamari Recycling staff member, who declined to give her name in an interview on Jan. 19. As for the status of the investigation of the fire, “the insurance people were looking at it,” she said, declining to give further details.