June 30--SHELTON -- Fire Marshal James Tortora said Monday afternoon that firefighters will remain at the Latex Foam building on River Road until midnight tonight to ensure "the debris doesn't combust again."
Tortora said around 10 a.m. Monday a fire started in the same machine where a large fire began last week, gutting the building and injuring four firefighters in the process. He said Shelton firefighters, along with back-up aid from firefighters in nearby Derby and Monroe, quickly extinguished Monday's small blaze, but will remain "on stand-by" until midnight to make sure any of the debris from the foam mattresses doesn't catch on fire again.
Tortora said the same area where a fire broke out last week, in an oven where the mattresses are dried, was ventilated over the weekend "to air the place out as part of the clean-up" from that massive blaze.
The ventilation, however, appeared to have activated the chemical make-up of the foam mattresses that still remained, which in turn caused the mattresses to smolder on Monday, leading to the blaze.
Tortora said the fire was contained to the machine, or industrial oven, which is about 20x200 ft. in size, where it began.
The oven and surrounding area was thoroughly soaked down by firefighters, according to Tortora. Nobody was injured during Monday's incident, Tortora added.
"We're going to remain here to make sure none of the debris combusts again," Tortora said.
A cause of the massive fire which occurred in the same oven last Thursday has yet to be determined by fire officials.
Last Thursday's fire caused officials to shut down several streets around the scene of the fire, including a lengthy stretch of River Road. Firefighters were dispatched to the factory around 1 a.m., after employees reported smoke in the basement area.
A heavy fire was found to have originated in the dryers, which occupy roughly three-quarters of the building, officials had said. The fire quickly broke through the ventilation system and into the duct work throughout the structure. Crews were forced to exit the interior of the building and battle the blaze from the exterior.
Once the fire was extinguished on the outside of the building, firefighters returned to the interior and extinguished the rest of the fire.
The building remains intact, but sustained extensive water damage.
Latex International moved to the 208,000-square-foot building in Shelton after a major fire destroyed its Ansonia factory in 2001. The company's predecessor, Sponge Rubber Products Co., had a factory destroyed in an arson fire in 1975.
The parent company, Latex Foam International Holdings, filed for bankruptcy protection this month.
The company produces latex mattress and pillows. It has more than 200 employees, including 170 at the Shelton plant.
Two of its top officials were sentenced to lengthy prison sentences after pleading guilty two years ago to stealing money from the company.
Its former chief executive officer, Kevin Coleman, was sentenced to six years in federal prison for embezzling $1.7 million from the company. Former vice president for human resources, Joanne Osmolik, was sentenced to four years in prison for also taking $1.7 million.
Copyright 2014 - New Haven Register, Conn.