Shelton fire marshal on Latex: Drying machine’s sprinkler system didn’t go on

The sprinkler system didn’t go on for the mattress-drying machine where the early morning fire started last week at the Latex Foam International factory in Shelton.

“What led to the spread of the fire was that the separate sprinkler system didn’t activate,” said Shelton Fire Marshal James Tortora. “This was a secondary system just for that machine.”

Tortora said the main building’s overall sprinkler system did work, and combined with firefighting efforts helped to ensure the fire didn’t destroy the entire building. The fire did spread through the vent system onto the main factory floor and threaten the roof, before firefighters began pouring water on it from the outside.

The fire began just before 1 a.m. on the morning of Thursday, June 26 in the basement in the very rear of the main building at 510 River Road (Route 110).

About 150,000 gallons pumped out

Tortora was finally able to get inside the building on early Friday morning, after about 150,000 gallons of water were pumped out of the basement. The water came from firefighting hoses and the sprinkler system.

The damage was confined primarily to the drying machine, with some related heat damage to the area in the immediate vicinity, Tortora said.

There was no structural damage and the roof is secure, he said.

Machine was on at time of fire

The drying machine is about 200 feet long, and essentially went across the entire width of the Latex Foam building in the rear part of the sprawling factory complex.

Tortora said about 30 people were in building at the time of the fire, including one employee in the vicinity of the drying machine.

He said the machine is used during the overnight shift, and was in use when the fire began.