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Seymour firefighters' gear being sanitized after big fire in building with asbestos

Due to the age of the building, firefighters are uncertain of what they were exposed to during their fire cleanup

SEYMOUR, Conn. — Bank Street, in the center of Seymour's business district, remained closed to traffic Friday following a fire that destroyed several businesses in a historic building on Wednesday afternoon. And one of the focuses of the aftermath is on firefighters' gear.

Part of the cleanup of that massive fire that wiped out five businesses is first responder gear cleaning, which is being done out of an abundance of caution by a mobile unit equipped with washing machines and manpower.

RELATED: Businesses destroyed by fire in downtown Seymour

"Considering the age of the building downtown we had a structure fire we don't know what we are up against," said Quinn Levey,  Assistant Chief of the Seymour Fire Department. "There's concerns of asbestos and other particulates being airborne at that site."

The blaze broke out at the intersection of Bank and Main streets just after 2 p.m. Wednesday. The fire has been confirmed to have been ignited as a result of a business owner polishing a statue.

"Part of the procedure for him to polish that was to using some wax and he was heating it up with a lighter and it caught on fire and unfortunately it ignited a wicker table that was near him," said Timm Willis, the Seymour Fire Marshal.

A massage parlor, barbershop, two antique shops and a pizza place were all destroyed. 13 residents remain displaced.

"As a safety precaution that building had a lot of smoke go in it," Willis said. "There is an odor in there and because of the age of the building, there may or may not be some asbestos in there. And industrial hygienist is doing some testing to keep them safe."

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Roughly half of Seymour's 120 volunteer firefighters responded to the call Wednesday making this mobile unit a necessity.

"They have the capacity to clean roughly 50 sets of gear within a 12-hour period with this one single truck," Levey noted.

Fire officials said insurance carried by the business owner and perhaps some state aid will cover the equipment cleaning costs.

RELATED: Chemical investigation in Windsor home; officers hospitalized

"Each firehouse (there are two) here in Seymour does have, we are equipped with our own wash station but we only have one at each firehouse," Levey said.

The mobile extraction team is expected to be stationed at the Seymour Fire Department Great Hill Hose Co. tomorrow. So, its fingers crossed that there are no big calls between now and then. 

Tony Terzi is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tterzi@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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