STAMFORD, Conn. -- A six-alarm fire destroyed a block-long downtown warehouse building that formerly housed a 19th-century lock manufacturer, forcing at least a dozen people from the building and prompting the evacuation of as many as 200 others from the area.
The fire, at the former site of Yale & Towne Manufacturing Co., sent clouds of black smoke billowing into the air when it began shortly after noon yesterday. Plumes of smoke could be seen for miles.
The building housed an antiques dealer, a custom motorcycle shop, a furniture refinishing company and artists studios, authorities said.
There were no immediate details on the antiques and motorcycles that were destroyed.
One of the 65 firefighters who responded to the scene was treated for a minor knee injury, Deputy Fire Chief William Smith said. No other injuries were reported.
''It blanketed all of Stamford," Smith said of the smoke. ''It's an old industrial complex. The wood is plenty dry from the turn of the century. Stamford has had some of its most spectacular fires in this complex."
Firefighters were forced to take water from Long Island Sound because of a supply problem, he said.Stamford police Lieutenant Sean Cooney said several surrounding buildings were evacuated.
Authorities didn't immediately know the cause of the fire, which was brought under control about 4 p.m.
''It's a very, very large fire," said Bill Callion, the city's public safety director. ''We'll certainly monitor it all night."
Yale and Towne Manufacturing was established in 1868 and at one time was one of Stamford's biggest employers.
Police diverted traffic from the area.
The building is located near the downtown area of Stamford, a southwestern Connecticut city about 40 miles from New York City.
Antares Investment Partners in Greenwich recently acquired 82 acres that includes the site of the fire and plans to redevelop the area for stores and housing.
The partnership said it was working closely with investigators and was relieved that no one was seriously hurt. It said two buildings at the site were destroyed.