FIRE AFTERMATH: Fishing restrictions eased, shell fishing restrictions remain

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

Fishing along the Bridgeport shoreline from the Fairfield border to Pleasure Beach (on the Stratford border) 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.

Testing the water and the air

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 state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (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 Bridgeport Harbor at the confluence of the Pequonnock River. It did not flow into 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.

‘A very challenging fire’

Firefighters continued to wet down the rubble Friday afternoon.

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

More than 80 firefighters battled the five-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.