VERNON, Conn. — Hours after fire destroyed a former textile mill turned furniture storage facility, crews continued to battle hotspots and brought in a crane to knock down structural remains at 114 Brooklyn Street.
Takisha Johnson was watching TV when she heard a noise and smelled smoke. She and her daughter, Tatyanna, was among more than a dozen families temporarily displaced after heat melted the exteriors of nearby apartments and homes.
“Luckily I didn’t go to sleep and something told me to look out the window and I did and I called 911,” Johnson said.
The building erupted into flames around 2 a.m. early Monday morning. Cold temperatures created dangerous conditions for crews. Rockville General Hospital converted its cafeteria into a warming center for exhausted firefighters from as far away as Wethersfield and Avon.
“Most of the building’s insides have fallen to the basement, which has caused some hotspots and reoccurring hotspots.”
By Monday evening, crews brought in a crane to knock down the remaining structure and complete their investigation.
“A cold night, one of our first snowstorms of the year,” said Lt. Robert Marra.“Sometimes people do find their way into old mills. There are some holes, and areas to get in. We’re unsure at this point.”
A section of the building housed a 50-plus-year machine company, Crystal Tool. For a decade, Greg Berry worked there part-time. Monday afternoon, he watched as crews attacked flareups, thinking only of the company’s owners who he says took a chance on him as an employee with a heart condition.
“I’m just glad they weren’t there,” he said. “They’re up there in age, 90 years old, just thinking about selling it.” Adding, “my friend’s got a lot of tools in there, over 75 thousand dollars in tools. Never mind the machines worth a lot of money. He probably had over two dozen machines in there.”
Vernon Historical Society Director Jean Luddy says it was a historical loss for the town and an area that once boomed during the industrial era.
“It’s very sad as you can see we have quite a wonderful supply of beautiful old buildings and we’re trying to convert a lot of them,” she said.
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