Firefighters battle blaze at commercial building in North Haven

NORTH HAVEN - North Haven firefighters battled an industrial fire in a commercial building overnight.

The call came in at 3:10 a.m. for a fire at 33 Defco Park Road - that's off of Route 5. The building hoses the Parker-Hannifin Corporation, is a manufacturer of gaskets and seals for aircraft. Firefighters were notified by a call from a police officer working a paid detail nearby who saw smoke showing in the area. Chief Paul Januszewski said arriving firefighters saw flames coming from the rear of a 32,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility.

The building's sprinkler system had activated, but the fire alarm was not activated.

Fire was showing through the roof, and firefighters battling the cold weather as well as the fire were successful in stopping the fire, and containing the most serious damage to about 10 percent of the structure. The fire was declared under control at approximately 5 a.m. Fire crews from Wallingford and Hamden also responded to the scene to provide mutual aid.

The chief said they determined that a large quantity of acids and other chemicals had spilled or leaked during the fire. He declared a hazardous materials incident, and notifed the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. DEEP and a private environmental contracting company were called to the scene to access and clean the chemicals, and the North Haven Fire Department is providing decontamination for workers, as is standard procedure in these types of incidents.

In a press release, Chief Januszewski said "This was a challenging fire, with a large facility, bitterly cold conditions and the added element of unknown and potentially dangerous chemicals present at the scene. I would like to commend our overnight fire crews and mutual aid partners for working diligently to contain this fire to only one portion of the building, despite the fire's head start with a non-functioning alarm system present in the building. Additionally, had it not been for the alert police officer in the area, the outcome may have been much worse."

Officials believe at this time that the design of the building worked to mitigate any exposure of the chemicals to the ground and environment.

Investigators will also look into why the fire alarm system, which had been inspected in the past calendar year, failed to notify the fire department. Remodeling and construction work was taking place at the facility, and officials will investigate if that played any role in either the failure of the fire alarm of the outbreak of the fire.