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Fire Destroys Trailer in Norwalk Parking Lot

NORWALK, Conn. — A truck trailer parked next to some Richards Avenue power lines suffered an unlikely fate Friday after an intense thunderstorm – it burned nearly completely as Norwalk firefighters watched.

Lightning hit the power line at about 4:20 p.m. The power line fell on the detached trailer portion of a tractor-trailer. The trailer caught fire. Firefighters had to wait for the Flax Hill substation to be de-energized, Deputy Fire Chief Edward Prescott said. The trailer, which was parked in the side parking lot of the Walmart on Connecticut Avenue, burned down to its metal frame.

The trailer was one of several problems firefighters responded to during the storm. At least three of the calls were a result of lightning strikes, with several calls for alarms malfunctioning as a result of power surges and outages, Prescott said.

There were also several calls from people mistaking downed arcing electrical lines and the resulting smoke for structure fires. Primary power lines and transformers came down in the area of Flax Hill Road at Highland Avenue, tying up traffic and causing a power outage in the vicinity.

The Avalon Apartment building on Belden Avenue sustained a lightning strike that damaged its two fire alarm panels along with several televisions and thermostats. A security company and maintenance personnel were maintaining a fire watch until the alarm panel repairs could be made. The building is protected by sprinklers and local smoke detectors.

The detached trailer parked in the parking lot at Walmart was ignited by a primary power line. The trailer became fully engulfed and destroyed by flames. Once power was secured, fire crews extinguished the trailer and cooled the asphalt that had melted from the arcing electrical line. A van parked next to the trailer had two of its tires melt to the pavement.

“The wire burned it down,” said Tony Fiaschetti, chief linesman of the Connecticut Light & Power crew that was working to fix the line at about 8:30 p.m. “I guess lightning must have hit" the wire.

Neighbors surveying the scene said power was out in a two-block radius. They speculated about whether the trailer had anything in it. “The way that was going, I think that thing was full,” one man said. “It was smoking for a while.”

Prescott said firefighters were initially unsure whether there was anything in the trailer and took precautions, keeping people back 100 yards and stopping traffic. It turned out to be empty.

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