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A day later, fire at Willimantic recycling plant under control

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WILLIMANTIC — A day after a massive fire broke out at a Connecticut waste and recycling plant, the blaze has been declared under control.

Windham Fire Chief Marc Scrivner said the fire that destroyed a 100,000 square foot building at the Willimantic Waste Paper Company continued to smolder Monday, but is not expected to grow.

"We certainly don't have any reason to believe there's any criminal aspect, but we haven't ruled that out either," said Chief Scrivener.

Crews worked Monday to pull debris from the building and cool it down. Officials say more than 2.5 million gallons of water was used to extinguish the fire. A regional hazmat team was also called in to spray down firefighters as they stepped away from the scene.

"Want want to give our guys every opportunity to get clean before they leave, so they're not taking any of those cancer-causing products home with them," said Scrivener.

DEEP is monitoring both air and water quality for contamination.

"Approximately 1,000 gallons of oils in various tanks on the property, I'm sure at this point, have been consumed by fire," said Jeff Chandler of DEEP's Emergency Response Unit.

Local public schools and Eastern Connecticut State University were closed on Monday because of the smoke. The fire broke out just after 10 a.m., Sunday with a plume that could be seen on local weather radar.

Employees at Blondie's Diner just down the street, said they watched the building burn.

"Yesterday, we were working here, everybody, and then we started seeing the flames go up," said Edith Gonzalez. Gonzalez said the company's owners are frequent customers who support the local community.

An attorney speaking on behalf of the company's owners said that the family is grateful no one was working at the time the fire broke out, and is thankful for the community's outpouring of support.

About 200 firefighters from 14 fire companies battled the flames at the fire's peak.

Nobody was injured. Scriverner says one firefighter and a company employee were treated for exhaustion.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.