Waterbury Officials Address Safety Concerns After Fire at Abandoned Mill

While an arrest has been made in the massive fire that burned an abandoned downtown building New Year’s Eve night in Waterbury, the investigation continues into what caused this fire to burn so quickly.

Rubble is all that’s left on the South Main Street site, a former manufacturing mill built in the early 1900's, but there are about a dozen abandoned properties throughout the city similar in size to the old 200,000-square foot structure.

“Big concern. It has been for many years for us residents that live here in Waterbury,” said Waterbury resident, Luis Zayas.

The vacant buildings also a concern for city officials.

Fire Chief David Martin said his biggest concern is a building on Freight Street, a former brass company.

“There’s some abandoned tanks there that are a concern, the integrity of the structure is of concern as well,” said Chief Martin, who told NBC Connecticut the city has teamed up with the Environmental Protection Agency to do environmental work there.

There are three other buildings on South Main Street, one on Cherry Avenue and one Bristol Street that are also of concern. They can pose a threat for firefighters if they get an emergency call at any of them.

“Just from a safety standpoint we try to go through these buildings as best as possible, outline any portions that are maybe lacking structural integrity,” said Chief Martin.

The city has worked on trying to make sure abandoned sites throughout the city are secure by boarding them up and fencing the properties as needed.

“Make these sites and locations as secure as you can. Whether it’s fencing, just a general board up to try and keep vagrants and people that are trying to do anything nefarious in these locations...try to keep them out,” said Director of Operations for the City of Waterbury, Joe Geary.

Until the city can put up fencing on the site of the New Year's Eve fire, the property is being secured by a police officer.

City officials are hoping state and federal aid will help offset what’s expected to be an expensive cleanup, expected to be well in the thousands, according to Geary.

Fire marshals deemed the building was intentionally burned to the ground. Police arrested a 58-year-old homeless man, Timothy Carlson, on Tuesday.

Contact Us