Wind-driven fire spread quickly through Baltic Mill

Firefighters doused the Baltic Mill again on Tuesday, one day after a massive, wind-driven fire burned the mill, said Kevin Roe, deputy chief of Baltic Fire Engine Company No. 1.

The fire at 29 Bushnell Hollow Road was reported at 2:16 p.m. on Monday, and was reported under control at 10:54 p.m. The Baltic Fire Engine Company is at 22 Bushnell Hollow Road, and wind from the blaze blew embers across the road, igniting land behind the firehouse and burning 11 acres, along with a small private storage building, Roe said.

One firefighter was taken to William W. Backus Hospital as a precaution, Roe said. There were no other injuries. The fire began when construction workers were working on demolishing the building, Roe said.

“Being an old woolen mill, it was heavy timber construction, and a lot of that was soaked with chemicals and being that it had dried out over the years, it went up like a tinder box,” he said.

The blaze started on the second story, then quickly spread to all four stories, causing already weak floors to collapse, Roe said. It was too dangerous for firefighters to enter the structure, so they ended up lobbing water at it from above, he said.

“As it burned during the evening, everything just started collapsing. There were a few times when you’d feel the ground shake and you heard a loud bang and everything was on the floor,” Roe said.

Twenty-one departments responded to the fire, along with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Forestry Division.

“We certainly would not have been able to do this by ourselves,” Roe said. “It was a group effort, and I personally have a lot of gratitude.”

d.straszheim@theday.com 

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