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    Tuesday, October 04, 2022

    24 calls in 24 hours: New London Fire Department has busy Saturday

    New London Fire Department Battalion Chief Jeff Rheaume, left, shows department Chief Tim Curcio, center, the damage to a menþÄôs rest room at Caulkins Park after a fire in the structure Saturday, May 15, 2021. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    The New London Fire Department had a busy day Saturday with 24 calls in 24 hours. 

    The department responded to a porch fire, a burn injury, a cardiac arrest, a motorcycle crash and an arson at a park. 

    Though the number of calls isn’t an enormous spike from a typical weekend — on average the department receives 18 to 20 calls a day — the number of “significant” events they were called to was higher than normal. 

    Battalion Chief Jeffrey Rheaume said that “it was challenging, but we were able to handle multiple calls at one time with our staffing.” 

    The department responded Saturday morning to a fire at a commercial building in East Lyme that houses Atlantic Building Products. The building was engulfed in flames about 11:30 a.m., with flames shooting from the roof — which eventually collapsed — and smoke billowing for miles. Two employees who were in the building at the time of the fire were able to evacuate and no injuries were reported. The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the fire marshal's office.

    The town of East Lyme requested New London’s ladder truck. While teams were responding to that fire, New London had to staff a reserve ladder truck — which they don’t normally do — to make sure the city was prepared in the event of an emergency.

     “We had to move some people around to man our second ladder truck to make sure New London was covered, too.” The transition was smooth, he said. 

    “Anytime our staff is challenged they rise to the challenge,” Rheaume said.

    In the afternoon, about 3:15 p.m., the department responded to 19 Blackhall St. where a fire was blazing on a porch. Firefighters extinguished the fire in about 15 minutes. No injuries were reported, and no one had to be evacuated. 

    The fire was accidentally started by a cigarette, according to Fire Marshal Vernon Skau. 

    At 7:11 p.m., firefighters responded to a fire in a bathroom at Calkins Park at 44 Riverview Ave., where a fire had been intentionally set in a bathroom, Skau said. No injuries were reported.

    The department also helped a man who went into cardiac arrest and another man who was injured when his motorcycle was involved in a crash on Interstate 95 south near Exit 84 for downtown New London. The man was taken to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital with injuries that weren’t life-threatening.

    Just after midnight, a woman who lived on Huntington Street suffered a minor burn injury from a stove. The department responded to her home.

    Though it was a busy day, Rheaume said Sunday that “I think in the end, most New London firefighters would say they were just doing their job yesterday.”


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