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Fire Marshal: Shelton Fire Started With Propane Heater

by STAFF | Dec 5, 2017 5:32 pm

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Posted to: Shelton

Fire officials believe a deadly blaze Friday in a Shelton mobile home was started by a propane-fired heater.

Shelton Fire Marshal James Tortora said Tuesday that the fire’s cause can’t officially be determined until the a medical examiner completes an autopsy on the victim, 75-year-old Richard Kowalsky.

“It started in the rear bedroom and had (to do) with some type of malfunction with the portable heater,” Tortora said. “The cause of death is what we’re waiting on.”

The fire was reported about 5:45 p.m. Friday by residents at the Fairchild Heights mobile home community off Bridgeport Avenue.

Firefighters arrived to find the rear bedroom of the mobile home completely engulfed in flames.

Article continues after photo, which, like the video above, is from Fireground Images.

Firefighters initially had to back out of the building because of the intense fire, which was fed by a propane tank connected to a heater.

They eventually knocked the flames down within about 30 minutes.

Firefighters found Kowalsky’s body while searching the home afterward.

Tortora, Shelton police, and officials from the state fire marshal’s office have been investigating the fire.

The Valley Indy emailed the Chief Medical Examiner’s office Tuesday.

Other Fire Investigations Remain Open

Meanwhile in Derby, the cause of a middle-of-the-night fire from October remains undetermined, Derby Fire Marshal Phil Hawks said.

No one was injured in the fire, which started in a vacant, first-floor commercial space at 19 Derby Ave. about 2 a.m. on Halloween.

The second and third floors had four apartments, three of which had people living in them at the time of the fire.

The property owner is working with an insurance company and an electrical engineer to figure out how the fire started.

There was an electrical outlet in the area where the fire started, but there’s no cause yet.

“It’s still under investigation,” Hawks said.

The first floor was formerly home to the Wild Irish Rose topless club, and then Roxxie’s, a deli that never actually opened.

The fire marshal said the property owner, at the city’s behest, had reactivated a fire alarm system on the first floor.

Horns with strobe lights on the second and third floors were wired into the fire detection system on the first floor.

That system alerted the residents and most likely saved the tenants’ lives, Hawks said.

“That woke everybody up and got them out of the apartment,” he said.

Here is a WTNH report from the day of the fire:

The old building is balloon-frame construction, an outdated design style that allows fire to travel easily inside of walls.

Firefighters were on scene in four minutes, Hawks said.

The city had approved plans to redevelop the first-floor vacant space into a barbershop and convenience store.

It’s unclear where those plans now stand, as the owner is working with an insurance company.

Finally, in Seymour, the cause of an Oct. 19 fire on Patton Avenue also remains “undetermined,” according to Deputy Fire Marshal Timm Willis.

Luckily, no one was home at the fire, which badly damaged a single-family house.

Willis said the fire may have been started by the spontaneous combustion of oily rags near a heat source, but there is not enough information at this point to make a declaration.

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