Fire ripped through a shopping plaza in Torrington, destroying a trophy and hobby shop and causing damage to others. Firefighters battled the cold weather as well as the fire before everything was finally under control.
Firefighters are surveying fire damage at the strip mall at 78 North Elm Street in Torrington after a blaze fire broke out early this morning.
The fire started just after midnight at the strip mall, which houses the Hobby and Trophy World Shop, which provides the awards for most events in town; Carl's Hardware Store; and about four other businesses.
Firefighters encountered so much smoke that it was difficult to at first tell exactly where the flames were coming from but they determined it started in the hobby shop.
Josephine Donofri, a neighbor, was one of the first to notice the fire.
“I woke up to the smell of burning wood, so I kind of panicked, thinking, and ‘Is this part of my house? What’s going on? So, I look outside and I see the cop cars,” she said.
The cold posed challenges for firefighters.
Chief Gary Brunoli said they had to call in public works to put down some sand so the water used did not turn to ice.
"All this water can make it a little slippery for us," he said.
Crews were able to get the fire under control pretty quickly and called in mutual aid from several towns.
There is also water damage to Carl's Hardware Store, which is located right below the hobby shop.
The fire chief said the hobby shop will not reopen today.
Carl Muller owns the building and said there is smoke damage and he does not know when they will be able to reopen.
"It’s going to put us behind. ... We just hope we can get back as quickly as possible," he said.
Once the strip mall reopens, Muller said they will try to help out the hobby and trophy shop.
"We will see what we can do to help them out. Get them moved next door or something and get them started again," Muller said.
Firefighters had to tear a hole in part of the roof to help ventilate the building.
They're still surveying the damage at the other businesses.