Fire Damages Wilder Wood Shop
William Lewis of the Hartford Fire Department pushes water out of the offices of Hitchcock Woodworking in Wilder yesterday after a fire that began in the rear of the building was brought under control. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Hartford firefighters look for hot spots after extinguishing a fire at Hitchcock Woodworking in Wilder yesterday.(Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
John Hitchcock looks in at the damage to his woodworking shop in Wilder. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Wilder — A woodworking shop sustained smoke and water damage yesterday afternoon after a sawdust collection system caught fire, officials said.
Firefighters responded to Hitchcock Woodworking at the A Street Commerce Park at about 4:30 p.m. yesterday, Hartford Fire Chief Steve Locke said.
By the time help had arrived, the store’s sprinkler system had extinguished the majority of the blaze, which was concentrated in a small room in the corner of the 5,000-square-foot shop.
However, every sprinkler in the shop went off, said Drew Hitchcock, 24, who was the only person there when the fire started. As a result, the shop and showroom at the front entrance were soaked.
Hitchcock said he was running a wide-belt sander connected to the dust collector. At one point he looked up and saw that the pipe connecting the machine to the sawdust room was on fire. He picked up a fire extinguisher.
“I sprayed it for as long as that extinguisher went for,” said Hitchcock.
After the fire had been cleared, firefighters began shoveling sawdust out of the corner room. At the other side of the building, cabinets and carpeting in a showroom had been soaked.
Along with Hartford, the Hanover, Lebanon and Norwich fire departments responded. Locke said firefighters had the blaze out about 15 minutes after arriving.
None of the nearby offices were affected by the fire at the shop, which sits at the end of a long series of one-story offices.
Locke was unsure of the cause of the fire, besides noting something “malfunctioned between (the sander) and the dust collection system.”
Before the fire trucks rushed by, the rising smoke piqued the curiosity of Lisa Gilman, who lives on nearby South Street.
“This doesn’t look right,” she told her husband, Jon.
They drove to the business park and then realized that the fire started at Hitchcock Woodworking.
While sitting in her truck nearby as firefighters shoveled sawdust, Gilman said her family knows the Hitchcock family well — her son and Drew Hitchcock were in Boy Scouts together.
“I feel really bad,” she said. “They do amazing work in there.”
Hitchcock, meanwhile, walked in and out of the building, discarding charred planks of wood, cardboard and insulation, with the help of members of the fire department.
“We’ve got a bunch of work coming up,” he said. “We’re going to have to figure something out to keep working.”
Jon Wolper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3248.