Fire at Manchester M&R Liquors Started in Attic: Officials

Investigators determined a large two-alarm fire that destroyed M&R Liquors in Manchester Wednesday morning started in the attic and investigators are examining the electrical wiring. 

Drivers passing by the building on 120 Tolland Turnpike noticed heavy smoke and called 911 around 3:55 a.m., according to the fire department. 

When firefighters arrived, smoke was pouring out from all windows, as well as the door and the roof. The fire caused bottles of alcohol to explode, which added more fuel to the fire. 

Within five minutes, part of the roof collapsed and the firefighting operation became even more extensive as more of the nearly 10,000 foot building continued to collapse.

A investigation found that the fire started near the center of the building's attic space above the drop ceiling. The department is further examining electrical wiring in the attic space, but the cause of the fire has not be determined, according to a news release from the Manchester Fire Department said. The fire marshal is investigating the determine the official cause.

Huge Fire Destroys Manchester Liquor Store

It was not safe for crews to go inside as the fire raged, so firefighters has to attack from outside the building. 

"The fire was very hot, very intense and this is what's called a 'truss construction' roof, metal construction, so it fails very quickly in a hot fire," Manchester Fire Chief David Billings said.  "That's why we did have the building collapse within the first five or 10 minutes of our arrival."

No one was inside when the fire started. The store had closed several hours earlier, around 9 p.m. Tuesday.

M&R Liquors, a family-owned business, has been open since 1952 and in current building was built in the 1980s and did not have a sprinkler system because it was grandfathered in, Billings said.

The Manchester Fire Department, the Eighth Utilities District, and East Hartford Fire Department all responded to the scene. Glastonbury fire and Bolton fire were also called in to provide station coverage.

Crews have demolished the building and the owner, Gary Rounsville, said he plans to rebuild and reopen.

"More than likely, we're going to have to pay out of pocket for some of it, but insurance will take care of a good piece of it," he said.

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