New London — A garage at 103 Elm St. that housed two businesses was severely damaged by a second-alarm fire Friday morning.
Staff from the fire marshal’s office and New London Police Department were on the scene investigating the cause and origin of the fire through the early afternoon.
“It’s pretty much a total loss,” said Fire Marshal Calvin Darrow, who gave a preliminary damage estimate of about $200,000. The fire extended into both wings of the building, which has stone foundations on either side of a wood frame center.
City firefighters who were called to the scene at 5:55 a.m. had trouble fighting the blaze because three out of the four fire hydrants in the immediate area were not operating due to bad valves that were in the off position, according to Darrow. The city’s public utilities office was notified and the contractor that maintains the hydrants, Veolia Water, got them up and running later in the day, Darrow said.
The crews were concerned about the fire extending to the nearby buildings and about flammable liquids and other industrial materials inside the structure, Darrow said. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection responded to inspect the storm drains in the area.
The building is owned by Michael S. Perry, who was on his way to the city from Vermont after he was notified of the fire.
Bert Brouillier, owner of the Cathedral Stained Glass shop that has occupied one section of the garage for the past seven years, said he lost “everything” to smoke and water damage, including tools, materials and customer merchandise. He said a neighbor offered a garage where he can set up shop temporarily.
DHZ Contracting, owned by Tim Amerson, occupies the other wing. Amerson said he lost computers, trailers, tools and other items. Both business owners were checking into their insurance policies.
Barry Weiner, chairman of the New London Water & Water Pollution Authority, said the authority immediately launched an investigation to ensure that the city’s fire hydrants are in working order.
“The immediate problem has been dealt with, all the hydrants are back on line and we are undergoing a process to make any repairs that are necessary,” Weiner said.