A huge fire destroyed part of Northeast Recyclers of Windham in Willimantic on Monday afternoon.
There were intense flames, as well as a column of smoke people could see from across that area of the state.
We’re told the scrap yard has been here for decades and thankfully everyone is okay.
“I went outside. It looked like a bomb went off or something. It was huge,” said Eric Risley of Willimantic.
PHOTOS: Crews Battle Large Fire at Willimantic Recycling Facility
Neighbors Eric and Sarah Risley were stunned when the fire broke out around 3:30pm.
Car after car went up in flames, as did a building.
Nearby homes had to be evacuated briefly because of the billowing smoke.
People noticed the darkened sky from miles away.
“We saw the cloud when we came out of the mall. It was huge. You could see it, really big. You could see it from the mall. It was crazy. It was intense,” said Sarah Risley.
It was all hands on deck as firefighters from across the area raced here.
“It is quite a complicated operation when you have this many cars in a junk yard in this proximity,” said Fire Chief Marc Scrivener, Willimantic Fire.
Scrivener tells us the fire torched nearly 30 cars, as well as a building.
Right now it appears it started in that facility, a hut of sorts where cars were taken apart.
“The operation in the Quonset hut does involve removing fuel from junk vehicles and so it is a risky operation. So that will probably be the area where the investigators will start,” said Scrivener.
There is no word yet what started the fire.
The Department of Energy and Environment Protection had a crew out monitoring runoff from the fire and making sure it doesn’t reach a nearby river.