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‘Suspicious' Manchester fire melts portable toilet, spreads to trash bin

MANCHESTER - Police and fire officials have deemed a fire that turned a portable city toilet into a melted mess yesterday suspicious.

According to Manchester District Fire Chief Al Poulin, dispatchers received a call at 3:30 p.m. reporting a portable toilet on fire behind the Families in Transition center at 106 Middle St., and by the time fire companies arrived on scene the portable toilet unit had melted down to a stream of hot plastic running down the street.

'It went up in a matter of minutes,' said Poulin.

Poulin said Families in Transition had just completed roof renovations, and the fire spread to a 30-yard dumpster behind 106 Middle St. that was full of construction material. There was no damage to the building.

Poulin said that someone said they saw what appeared to be a homeless person using the portable potty just prior to the fire, but there was no description given of the individual. The fire was reported about 15 minutes later.

'It is suspicious,' said Poulin. 'The cause is undetermined.'

Poulin said the Dumpster was overhauled and stirred up, and its contents exposed to water and Class A foam. It took fire companies about an hour to overhaul the dumpster and extinguish the fire.

The last company left at 4:30 p.m.

Poulin said that inside the Dumpster were numerous roofing materials and construction debris.

'That's the problem with these Dumpsters - you never know what people will throw in them,' said Poulin. 'Whenever we go into a Dumpster fire, it's probably the most hazardous fire we can encounter, because we have no idea what substances are burning. It often gives off toxic fumes.'

Poulin said all of the firefighters on scene were wearing self-contained breathing apparatus while they controlled the blaze.

The fire is being investigated by Manchester police, and the Fire Prevention Unit.

Poulin said the paint was melted off the Dumpster, and that a company representative estimated $1,000 in damage to the container. It will be sandblasted and painted.


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