A fire at a manufacturing company in Glastonbury continued to smolder 24 hours after it started on Wednesday.
Firefighters said more than 500,000 gallons of water has been used to fight the blaze at the Preferred Display complex.
"Most of them got out of here by 2 p.m., got home, got some sleep," said Assistant Chief Anthony Pagliughi, Glastonbury Fire Department. "We got them all back here, the ones that are available for today and kept a couple guys here to take care of the hotspots all night."
The blaze destroyed several of the business's buildings in the Roaring Broom Plaza.
As investigators look into a cause, 100 people are without jobs.
"[I] just started working here [and] thought it was a company I could stay with for a few years at least [with] full benefits," said Charles Moneypenny, an employee. "And I don't know what's going to happen now."
Flames first engulfed acrylic cosmetic tray making company on Wednesday afternoon.
"Fortunately we have a brook right here," Pagliughi said. "We had [an] unlimited water supply."
Officials said the fire grew so large, mutual aid from other towns was needed.
"Mutual aid, we had in from a lot of towns," Pagliughi said. "It's probably the most I've ever seen here in 42 years."
Officials said some people were evacuated from their homes, and the Riverfront Community Center was opened to accommodate residents in need.
On Thursday, officials said the shelter will be in place until air quality testing is completed.
Residents in the Sherbrook Drive, Fisher Hill, and Manchester Road area who chose not to evacuate their homes were advised to stay indoors, turn off air intake systems, and limit outdoor exposure.
Neighbors said they found pieces of debris in their yards, which is being tested by officials. Initial screenings haven't shown cause for concern but officials are still running more in-depth samples.
"Both my rear and side decks had small particles and soot, as well as the driveway but the yard itself in area you would find larger chunks," said Jeannie Loughlin, of Glastonbury.
While no one was hurt, employees told Eyewitness News that they were devastated and insure of what to do next. The company does have facilities in South Windsor and New Jersey.
"It's upsetting because I just got with the company," said Geoff Kasuga, an employee. "I love the company. I love everyone in the company and I'm standing here watching the building burn."
About half a dozen homes were evacuated because of the smoke and burning chemicals. Environmental officials are still urging the public to avoid the area.
"It smelt like burnt plastic," said Lisa Dency of Glastonbury. "It's really bad. It burnt my eyes were and in my lungs, and I left the house for a few hours."
David Moore, 86, went to see the damage on Thursday and said he remembers the building when it was home to a different manufacturing plant dating back to the 1860s.
In fact, there was a fire at the same spot over 70 years ago.
"I was about 11 years old when they had the fire in 1941," said Moore, who is a retired firefighter. "We walked down near the post office, it was so hot you almost had to get back up on the hill because the heat was so bad."
"Fortunately we're not dealing with raw chemicals," said Jeff Chandler, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. "We're dealing with the polyacrylic; however, with the polyacrylic the byproducts of combustion of that are somewhat hazardous."
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
However, one employee tells Eyewitness News that he believed it was sparked with a laser that ignited some paper.
Anyone who finds debris should call the health department at (860) 652-7534. DEEP officials warned residents to not touch the debris, because they want to take precautions due to the age of the building.
Copyright 2015 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.