American Excelsior fire cause undetermined

Cary Ashby • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:15 PM


Balebuster Ralph Bissell entered the American Excelsior Company straw room. What he found was a fire at the wood fiber wattle, used to keep debris from going into drains.

"I came around the corner and saw it burning. I started grabbing fire extinguishers," Bissell said. "It was pretty much out before it done any damage."

Bissell hasn't witnessed any previous problems with the wattle in the year he has worked at American Excelsior.

The cause of the fire Wednesday morning is undetermined. Firefighters said it started at a pallet of wood fiber.

"(It was) nothing that someone caused or on purpose," Norwalk Fire Capt. Tim Lucas said. "It was put out pretty fast. Some of the employees tried to put it out and we put it out when we arrived."

American Excelsior general manager David Peaslee, while at the scene, said nobody knew what started the fire, but said it could have been started near a log of erosion fiber.

"It looked like something smoldering," he added. "I don't have an explanation ... It's wood. Whatever happens to wood happens to wood."

Six firefighters responded to the fire reported at 11:41 a.m. The crew ventilated the straw room after extinguishing the blaze using a positive pressure fan.

Lucas estimated firefighters were on-scene about 1 1/2 hours and said there was some smoke damage.

In business since 1888, American Excelsior manufactures erosion control products and flexible foam packaging.

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