Fire, Building Collapse On Howe Avenue In Shelton

Update 8:30 a.m.:A total of five people were sent to the hospital early Monday after a fire leveled a downtown building, according to Shelton Assistant Fire Chief Nick Verdicchio.

Details weren’t available about their conditions, he said, but none of the injuries were life-threatening.

Firefighters rescued a total of 27 people from the fire, he said, including at least two by ladder.

“Everyone is accounted for,” Verdicchio said of the building’s residents.

“We have it under control,” he said of the blaze itself about 8:15 a.m. “It’s still got pockets of fire popping up that we can’t get to with an exterior attack and we’re obviously not going to put anybody inside of that.”

No firefighters were injured fighting the blaze, he said.

“Which is amazing because we’ve probably got 200 firefighters here from various communities, a tremendous mutual aid response here,” Verdicchio said.

About 8:30 a.m. firefighters from Ansonia and Derby were leaving the scene as heavy equipment was brought in to help move rubble and help fire crews douse any remaining hotspots.

Officials from the Shelton fire marshal’s office and the state fire marshal’s office were also on scene to investigate how the blaze started.

Original story follows below.

Four people are in the hospital after a massive fire and building collapse on Howe Avenue in the heart of downtown Shelton.

Shelton Assistant Fire Chief Nick Verdicchio said the extent of the injuries were not known. The scene was still very much active as of 5 a.m. The first call came in at about 12:30 a.m.

Firefighters did not say definitively that everyone who lived in the 10 or so apartments in the building have been accounted for, as they were still fighting the fire.

The people lived in a large mixed use, four-story building that was at least 100 years old, with apartments on the upper levels.

The building had a number of retail stores on the first floor, including a florist and Howe Convenient at 456 Howe Ave.

A Chinese food take-out restaurant was damaged, as was Liquid Lunch, which posted a message on its Facebook page early Monday to remind customers of a second location.

The fire marshal estimated at least six stores were badly damaged.

“The art school and everything else on that block of (stores) down to Liquid Lunch is gone,” Shelton resident and journalist Fred Musante posted on Facebook.

Article continues after video interview with Verdicchio.

Verdicchio said firefighters were called to the scene to initially investigate a water leak in the building’s basement. They arrived and discovered fire.

“The fire appears to have started in the basement, it moved its way right up. We had several occupants up on top,” Verdicchio said.

Article continues after the photo gallery:

Firefighters used ladders to pluck a few people out.

“It was quite an extensive rescue operation. Hopefully we got everyone accounted for,” the assistant chief said.

Article continues after photo:

After about 30 minutes, “we had a major collapse,” Verdicchio said.

The video below comes courtesy of

No firefighters were injured, as crews could see the building was going to cave in.

The front of the building fell into a street sign, which hit a fire truck.

Article continues after the video:

As of 4:30 a.m., firefighters were still dumping water on the smoldering wreckage, which ignited again several times.

Verdicchio said it appeared at least one gas line was still feeding the property, creating a headache for firefighters trying to extinguish the blaze. YankeeGas was on the scene, as was the state fire marshal, who was escorted by Shelton Fire Marshal James Tortora.

A few hydrants were frozen and could not be used, Verdicchio said.

The blaze brought a large response from firefighters throughout the Valley and beyond.

Firefighters will be at the scene for hours.

The amount of smoke from the fire was incredible. At times it obscured the Derby-Shelton bridge, as this video shows:

The fire damaged a building that sat at the corner of Howe Avenue and Viaduct Square, across the street from Downtown Danny O’s.

“Basically we’re drowning this thing, that’s where we are right now,” Verdicchio said.

There was also a water main break on Howe Avenue at the intersection with the Derby-Shelton bridge. People were without water at residences throughout the downtown area.

Roughly 900 United Illuminating customers were without power as of 6 a.m. because of the fire.


posted by: Stan Muzyk on January 6, 2014  6:35pm

All of the debris from the fallen structure was removed Monday afternoon and only a flat-land-parcel remains where the historic Shelton landmark once stood.