Fishing restrictions scaled back following Bridgeport fire

Update Sept. 12, 3 p.m. —

After a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter flyover, the state scaled back fishing restrictions after water runoff from a massive fire Thursday left a  reddish purple film in the water.

Fishing along the Bridgeport shoreline from the Fairfield border to Pleasure Beach remains banned. Recreational and commercial fishing in allowed in open water.

Originally, the ban spanned from Norwalk to Milford. The ban has been lifted in the other towns.

Shell fishing remains banned from Fairfield to the Housatonic River.

The state DEEP and U. S. Coast Guard are taking extensive sample of the water to determine if there is anything harmful.

“We want people to understand that this material is in the water and that we need to determine if it harmful. So please don’t fish,” said David Poynton, the emergency response coordinator for the DEEP.

At this time, it is believed that the material is some type of dye. The bans will remain in place “until we feel very confident that the water quality is ok,” he said.

The city closed down Pleasure Beach and also cautioned people against swimming along the shoreline in Bridgeport until the analysis was competed.

U.S. Coast Guard Commander Jonathan Theel said the helicopter flyover just after dawn showed that the contaminated runoff was confined to the Yellow Mill Channel and flowed into the Bridgeport Harbor at the confluence of the Pequonnock River. It did not flow into the Long Island Sound.

The EPA and the civil response team from the Connecticut National Guard continue to measure air quality. Those tests have shown no hazards.

Firefighters continued to wet down the rubble Friday afternoon.

“This was a very challenging fire. There were huge explosions about every five minutes but the firefighters didn’t give an inch of ground,” he said. “I was to praise the firefighters for doing the tremendous job they did.

More than 80 firefighters battled the 5-alarm fire.

Rowayton Trading Co., a business that was destroyed, contained 1,000 55 gallon drums of various chemicals, including fragrances. The company buys used lots of chemicals and sells them. Contents from those drums is believed to be the source of the contaminated run-off.

JWC Roofing and Siding, a wholesaler for home improvement contractors, also was destroyed.

The two businesses employed about 50 people.

Both were located at 25 Grant St. Firefighters responded to the 2100 block of Seaview Avenue just after 6:45 p.m. Thursday on the report of fire. That location appears to be the rear of one of the businesses.

UPDATE 7:00 a.m. — The U.S. Coast Guard and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection remain on scene of what officials now say is a five-alarm fire that burned overnight in Bridgeport.

The state and U.S. Coast Guard are testing water samples from the Pequonnock River and the Bridgeport Harbor to determine if water run-off from firefighting efforts carried any hazards into the waterway.

A foamy substance with a red tint was observed in the water, so the Coast Guard will fly a helicopter this morning over the harbor and along the shoreline to determine its spread.

As a precaution, all commercial and recreational fishing is prohibited from Norwalk to Milford while tests are completed, according to Coast Guard Capt. Ed Cubanski.

The DEEP yesterday stationed monitors testing air quality and detected no risk to public health. The smoke could cause respiratory irritation to people with preexisting respiratory conditions.

The cause of the fire remains undetermined. The buildings sustained multiple collapse areas so fire investigators have not yet entered the fire area.

UPDATE 6:33 a.m. — Last night's fire on Seaview Avenue is still burning. Factories were destroyed last night: a perfume company and a roofing company.

Residents were evacuated from the area last night, and after an OK by the DEEP, they were allowed back home. DEEP will continue to be monitoring air quality in the area, as well as the water. There was a red color spotted in the water last night, which caused officials to ban fishing in the Sound today.

Original story — A massive fire is burning into its third hour in an industrial building in Bridgeport.

The fire was reported at 6:48 p.m. Thursday at 2102 Seaview Ave. Around 8:30 p.m. A massive column of smoke, bathed in an orange glow, towered above the East Side of the Park City, visible from I-95.

Numerous explosions sent flames four stories into the air.

The wind, blowing east to west, sent sparks toward nearby structures. Firefighters were spraying water on houses as siding melted on at least one.

The fire is near the former Remington plant, scene of several recent blazes.

The Stratford and Fairfield fire departments are also on the scene. Shortly before 9 o’clock, haz mat teams from lower Fairfield County were speeding up I-95 North toward the inferno.

More details will be posted as they become available.

— By Greg Reilly and John Kovach