Fire destroys Pemco Manufacturing factory building in Glastonbury

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GLASTONBURY -- Fire crews from more than a half-dozen towns controlled a fire that broke out at a Glastonbury plastics factory by Roaring Brook Wednesday morning.

The fire started at 32 Roaring Brook Plaza, which is located behind the East Glastonbury Post Office on Route 83. The building houses Pemco Manufacturing, which makes products for parent company Preferred Display, Inc., of Clifton, N.J.

Fire officials say a Pemco employee first spotted the fire from the building's roof around 11:30 a.m.  Wednesday.

Fire crews remained on scene into the night and Wednesday, and Glastonbury Deputy Fire Chief Chris Siwy expects them to stay "until sunrise" and possibly through the next several days to monitor hot spots.

The building is a part of an older mill complex, build around the 1860s, and several issues were encountered by firefighters, including a lack of water in the area, narrow roads to drive down and the size of the building. Also, because the factory complex was built into the hillside, topography created its own set of issues.

"Water supply is a challenge in an area where there is none. It was challenging  in an area served by a narrow road, along with getting the equipment and apparatus through," said Siwy.


Officials from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection on site were also concerned with air quality, pointing out acrylic material burned from inside the building. Residents in the area were told to stay inside, though the plant doesn't manufacture any raw chemicals.

DEEP officials pointed out acrylic material burned from inside the building. The company manufactures plastics, and much of the material that burned were acrylics used in the manufacturing process.

DEEP Response Unit official Jeff Chandler said of the chemicals, "We’re fortunate we’re not dealing with raw chemicals. We’re just dealing with the polyacyrlic. However with the polyacrylic, the bi products of combustion are somewhat hazardous as far as inhalation. They’ll break down into various components of plastic, and our biggest concern are hydrocyanide which is a gas that’s toxic and carbon monoxide, also a toxic gas."

About a half-dozen nearby homes on Sheerbrook Road were evacuated as a precaution due to the chemicals in the smoke.

"We haven’t really begun the investigation yet," said Glastonbury Fire Department Chief Chris Siwy. "We’re still interviewing some people that were eyewitnesses and we have to rule out any other, any other things before we can make a determination on the cause, so it’s a little early yet."

Glastonbury, Marlborough, Bolton, Colchester and Hebron Fire Departments responded to the blaze.

Fire officials couldn't confirm or deny reports that a laser cutting machine ignited a piece of paper on fire, and that the fire then spread through the vents.

The Glastonbury Deputy Fire Chief said the fire was reported from the roof of the building.

An adjacent building, home to a company called "Quality Name Plate Inc.," was not impacted at all.

Pemco Inc. parent company  Prefered Display Inc. makes acrylic cosmetic displays that you see in stores that sell makeup, and their displays are shipped out to big name stores like Macy's, Sephora and Kohl's.

Between 50 and 75 people work at the Glastonbury plant--- many of them now worried about their jobs.

"If the inventory gets hit, for all I know, I`m out of a job," said Geoff Kasuga, who works in Inventory Control for Pemco.  "It's less busy right now, which means maybe we can make a speedy recovery, but it's tough---a lot of people I work closest with are having a really hard time."