Firefighters from Middletown and numerous other towns spent Saturday and Sunday battling a massive blaze at a garbage processing plant.
Crews from Guilford to Newington responded to the Middletown scene Saturday night, and some responders remained at the plant well into Sunday. The fire was officially cleared at 10:30 a.m.
The Westfield Fire Department, one of three in Middletown, received a call at 9:45 p.m. Saturday, according to Deputy Chief Darrell Ponzio. The call reported a structure fire at Dainty Rubbish Service.
Ponzio, who was on the scene for the duration of the fire, said the Industrial Park Road facility is a large, open space resembling a warehouse. That warehouse was filled with 100 to 120 tons of garbage, mostly construction debris — and it was on fire.
Through the night, crews fought the massive blaze with more than a million gallons of water, Ponzio said.
“That’s not hyperbole. We were doing the math,” Ponzio said.
As the firefighters worked for more than 12 hours straight, the unseasonably warm and windy weather was both a help and a hindrance.
The warm weather kept the water from freezing, Ponzio said, but the wind pushed the smoke into firefighters’ faces and obscured their vision.
“It wasn’t freezing and so we weren’t walking around on a skating rink from all the water,” Ponzio said. But the wind “was pushing the smoke from the fire directly to where we were trying to operate, continuously for hours and hours and hours.”
In the end, firefighters had the blaze extinguished at about 8 a.m. Sunday, before clearing the scene two and a half hours later.
No one was in the garbage processing facility at the time of the fire, Ponzio said, and no firefighters were injured while responding.
But because of the nature of the fire, Ponzio said the cause is unknown and will likely remain that way.
“It’s not like you’re dealing with a house where you could find a point of origin,” Ponzio said. “It was this massive mound of garbage.”
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