Fire marshal continues probe into blaze at Rex Forge in Southington

Fire marshal continues probe into blaze at Rex Forge in Southington

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SOUTHINGTON — A fire at Rex Forge last week that required seven fire engines from three towns to extinguish is under investigation by fire officials. 

Fire Marshal James Paul said it could take a few weeks to determine the cause of the blaze that damaged the roof of the Atwater Street manufacturer.

No workers or firefighters were hurt. The forging company is still operating despite damage to part of the building. Company leaders toured the building with fire officials this week.

“The roof does have some extensive damage, however insurance is already involved and they’ve already had vendors in there to repair the structure of the building,” Paul said.

Southington firefighters called in surrounding towns to help fight the fire on Oct. 10. Two engines from Cheshire and one from Plainville came to the Rex Forge building while other towns provided fire coverage to Southington.

Paul said firefighters entered the building from the Quinnipiac River side with the larger hose lines carried on the trucks. The fire was coming from two machines about 50 feet in front of firefighters.

In addition to the seven fire engines, Paul said crews had two ladder trucks at Rex Forge as well.

Company officials didn’t return a call for comment this week.

There have been several fires and industrial accidents at the forge over the years, many involving oil igniting on hot machines.

Earlier this year, the company was looking for town approval to clean up oil spilled on the Quinnipiac riverbank during a 2012 fire that damaged the building. About 1,000 gallons of oil that was spilled into the river was contained and removed.

Fuel oil released accidentally from a valve also flowed into the river in 1998.

A gravel-lined trench and pump system now separates the 200,000 square-foot factory from the river. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection oversaw work conducted at the factory earlier this year.

Two presses malfunctioned and caught fire in 2017, injuring two workers.

A fire in 2014 damaged ceiling insulation but caused no injuries.

While fires are a concern, Board of Fire Commissioners chairman Nathan Wilson said he’s impressed with how quickly the fire department is able to put them out. A few hours after the initial call at Rex Forge, Wilson said he received a text from Paul saying the situation had been brought under control.

“I was terrified because this place goes up every once and a while,” Wilson said. “I’m just impressed.”

He said the fire officials would have the expertise to suggest any changes to promote fire safety at the forge.

jbuchanan@record-journal.com203-317-2230Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

“I was terrified because this place goes up every once and a while."

-Nathan Wilson, fire board chair
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