Huge fire destroys Research Drive manufacturing building

Stratford firefighters work to extinguish the fire at the Soundsphere building at 10 Research Drive. — John Kovach photo.

Update: MSE Audio, the Kansas-based parent company of Soundsphere, and other electronics operations, announced in a statement late Monday that it will temporarily move Soundsphere’s operations to another facility in Jacksonville, Fla.  MSE officials said the Soundsphere operations will be up and running in eight to 12 weeks.

Soundsphere has been at 10 Research Drive since 1998. Prior to that, it was located in Stamford in the late 1980s.

“We are absolutely devastated by the loss of our Soundsphere headquarters but we’re happy to report that no one was injured,” said MSE Audio President Laura Waldon. “We’re thankful for the timely response of our first-responders who battled the fire throughout the early morning hours. We want our dealers to know that we’re working quickly to rebuild the Soundsphere manufacturing and product stock, but in the meantime, we’ll do all we can to ensure our dealers have the product they need to complete their jobs on time.”

Michael Downes, a spokesman for Mayor Laura Hoydick, said Research Drive was reopened to traffic at about 5 p.m.

 

Original story: A massive fire ripped through an industrial building early Monday morning, sending dark smoke through the air that was visible for miles on Interstate 95.

The fire was reported at about 6:29 a.m. at the Soundsphere building at 10 Research Drive.

Assistant Stratford Fire Chief Mike Camperlengo said fire was coming through the building’s roof and through two sides when firefighters arrived.

Camperlengo said one person was in the building at the time working on the manufacture of speakers. Camperlengo said something occurred in the building that caused a chemical reaction, which started the fire.

“They were mixing a chemical this morning as part of the process for how they make their molds for the speakers. Something occurred, we don’t know what that is,” Camperlengo said. Acetone and other chemicals were used as part of the process.   

The man inside the building was able to get out of the building without injuries, he said. No other people were inside the building at the time of the fire, the assistant chief said, and about 40 people who were working in neighboring buildings were evacuated safely. No firefighters were injured.

The condition of the fire caused firefighters to take up a “defensive operation.” Camperlengo said. Sections of the building collapsed during the blaze, making the firefighting operations difficult, he said.  

The Soundsphere building will have to be razed as it is a total loss, Camperlengo said.

About 3,000 gallons of water was going into the building per minute in the course of extinguishing the fire.

Active air monitoring is going on, Camperlengo said. He noted that there is no health hazard for neighbors. However, the Stratford Fire Marshal’s Office advised residences and businesses to close their windows for a few hours due to poor air quality. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection was called in because of the water runoff and the chemicals. 

Firefighters from Bridgeport and Milford assisted Stratford by covering the Stratford firehouses.

Mayor Laura Hoydick said power was cut to buildings on Research Drive while firefighters do their work. Research Drive will likely be closed for the rest of the day.

Stay with The Stratford Star for more information on this story.

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Editor for the Stratford Star. Former reporter for the Darien Times.

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