Fire Guts Vacant Commercial Building In Derby’s Redevelopment Zone

State and city fire marshals are investigating a fire that was reported Sunday morning in a vacant, city-owned building on Caroline Street in Derby.

No injuries were reported as of 9 a.m. Sunday.

Derby Fire Marshal Phil Hawks was early in his investigation Sunday, so he couldn’t comment on the fire’s cause.

There were no signs that anyone was inside the building, though officials were planning to go over the wreckage piece by piece to make absolutely sure.

It was the second fire in the three-story building in three months.

This story continues after the photos.

The first fire, in September, was intentionally set, perhaps by a person or people squatting in the building, and caused moderate damage.

But Sunday morning’s blaze at 20-22 Caroline St. finished the job. The building is a total loss, as the roof and most of the exterior brick walls collapsed.

The fire was reported about 5:15 a.m., according to the Derby Fire Department’s Facebook page.

Caroline Street is off Main Street (Route 34) in the Derby redevelopment zone.

Derby Fire Department Chief Kurt Kemmesies said flames were consuming the building as the first firefighters arrived on scene.

“When the first units got here, it was fully involved, from the basement through the roof,” Kemmesies said. “It was extremely advanced right from the get go.”

The building was already listed as “do not enter” by Derby firefighters because of the building’s poor condition, and there was no getting in there because of the flames.

This story continues after the photos.

It was a three-alarm fire, Kemmesies said. Flames were still visible two hours after fire crews arrived.

The building, at least 100 years old, has sandstone mortar, which deteriorates over time, further calling into question the building’s structural integrity.

As of 9:30 a.m., Frank Pepe Construction was setting up machines to take the rest of the building down. Officials were waiting for utility companies to move wires away from the front of the building.

Mayor Anita Dugatto was on scene. The city owns the land, and had been planning to take the building down prior to Sunday’s fire. The buildings are in the city’s redevelopment zone, which stretches along the south side of Main Street.

Nearby buildings on Main Street are slated to be torn down as part of the Route 34 widening project.

The story continues after the video, which was recorded and shared live on the Valley Indy’s Facebook page at 7:44 a.m. Sunday.

A second structure, labeled “Derby Garden Center,” was moderately damaged from the fire, too.

Fire companies from Ansonia, Orange, Seymour, Shelton and Woodbridge assisted during the fire.


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