Flash fire damages linen facility in Norwich

Firefighters from Norwich and surrounding towns respond to a fire in the duct work at Atlantic City Linen Supply on Consumers Avenue in Norwich on Monday, Oct. 2, 2017. Yantic volunteers were assisted by crews from East Great Plain, Taftville, Bozrah, Colchester and the Mohegan Tribe. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Firefighters from Norwich and surrounding towns respond to a fire in the duct work at Atlantic City Linen Supply on Consumers Avenue in Norwich on Monday, Oct. 2, 2017. Yantic volunteers were assisted by crews from East Great Plain, Taftville, Bozrah, Colchester and the Mohegan Tribe. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

Norwich — A flash fire caused by a spark in a ventilation exhaust vent raced through the ductwork of the Atlantic City Linen Supply Inc. building at 5 Consumers Ave. in the Norwich business park late Monday, melting roof insulation that dropped into laundry bins, Yantic Fire Chief Frank Blanchard said.

Crews from several area volunteer fire departments, the Mohegan tribal FAST crew and American Ambulance were called to the fire that was reported by a 911 call at 10 p.m. Monday, Blanchard said.

Blanchard said the fire ran across the entire roof structure through the extensive network of dryer and exhaust vents. The building was evacuated and there were no injuries to the 38 employees or firefighters.

“They did a good job of evacuating,” Blanchard said. “Everyone was outside and accounted for.”

Firefighters worked on the roof, opening all exhaust vents looking for hot spots, while other crews were inside the building dealing with the melting roof insulation that had fallen into about 40 bins of laundry on the floor, causing smoldering fires.

“It appears one exhaust fan caused the fire,” Blanchard said.

Victor Nappen, vice president of sales and marketing for AC Linen headquarters in New Jersey, on Tuesday thanked firefighters for their quick response and work to put out the fire and limit the damage. He said the company, which runs 24 hours a day, was able to reopen within a few hours after firefighters left the scene.

"We’re 100 percent operational," Nappen said. "There's very little damage. I believe the fire department arrived within five minutes of the 911 call. They were such a huge help. We are forever grateful."

Nappen also thanked plant manager Musalem Camasta for instituting a successful emergency plan for the building and employees.

"Everything we planned for worked," Nappen said.

The plant employs about 110 to 120 employees, roughly 40 per shift, Nappen said. The company was assessing the extent and cost of the damage, Nappen said.

At the peak, about 60 firefighters were at the scene from the Yantic, East Great Plain, Taftville and Bozrah departments. A crew from Colchester provided coverage for the Mohegan FAST crew, Blanchard said.

Crews remained for two hours extinguishing hot spots and inspecting all vents. Employees were allowed to return to the cafeteria area once the fire was extinguished, Blanchard said, and power, water and natural gas services were restored.

Fire Marshal Lauren Cassidy, who was investigating, was not available for comment Tuesday.

c.bessette@theday.com

A Bozrah firefighter sets the handrails on the department's ladder as crews from Norwich and surrounding towns respond to a fire in the duct work at Atlantic City Linen Supply on Consumers Avenue in Norwich on Monday, Oct. 2, 2017. Yantic volunteers were assisted by crews from East Great Plain, Taftville, Bozrah, Colchester and the Mohegan Tribe. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
A Bozrah firefighter sets the handrails on the department's ladder as crews from Norwich and surrounding towns respond to a fire in the duct work at Atlantic City Linen Supply on Consumers Avenue in Norwich on Monday, Oct. 2, 2017. Yantic volunteers were assisted by crews from East Great Plain, Taftville, Bozrah, Colchester and the Mohegan Tribe. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
A Taftville firefighter hauls a supply hose as crews from Norwich and surrounding towns respond to a fire in the duct work at Atlantic City Linen Supply on Consumers Avenue in Norwich on Monday, Oct. 2, 2017. Yantic volunteers were assisted by crews from East Great Plain, Taftville, Bozrah, Colchester and Mohegan Tribe. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
A Taftville firefighter hauls a supply hose as crews from Norwich and surrounding towns respond to a fire in the duct work at Atlantic City Linen Supply on Consumers Avenue in Norwich on Monday, Oct. 2, 2017. Yantic volunteers were assisted by crews from East Great Plain, Taftville, Bozrah, Colchester and Mohegan Tribe. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

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