Shelton Police Charge Firefighter With Arson

Shelton PD Shelton police charged a volunteer firefighter with setting a fire in the back of a pickup truck outside the firehouse last month.

In a prepared statement Friday, Detective Christopher Nugent said 57-year-old William Tortora had been charged with second-degree arson, second-degree reckless endangerment, and second-degree criminal mischief, as well as three counts of conspiracy.

Another arrest is expected, according to police.

The fire happened Feb. 3 in the rear parking lot of Echo Hose Hook & Ladder Co. 1 at 379 Coram Ave. as a “past captains dinner” took place inside the firehouse.

“The investigation revealed that the fire was intentionally started in the rear of a pickup truck which was parked abutting the firehouse,” Nugent said. “Detectives investigated the incident by identifying individuals involved, interviewing several members of the Shelton Fire Department, as well as individuals that were present at the past captains dinner that evening.”

Tortora is listed as an “active firefighter” on the company’s website. His brother is the city’s fire marshal.

The Valley Indy first reported the incident Feb. 20. Surveillance video depicting the fire was sent to the Valley Indy anonymously. Click play on the video to watch.

Several readers said they recognized Tortora based on his outfit.

Tortora was arraigned Friday, where Judge Peter Brown ordered him held on $250,000 bond and continued the case to March 13, according to court records.

According to an arrest warrant written by Detective Richard Bango, Shelton Fire Department Chief Fran Jones reported the incident to police Feb. 13.

Detectives went to the firehouse, where a fire department captain showed police the surveillance video and identified Tortora and two other firefighters as having been involved with starting the fire.

Tortora and one of the others, Gregory Bomba, were intoxicated at the time, the fire captain said.

Bango recognized Tortora and Bomba in the video, the warrant says, as well as Tortora’s pickup truck.

About five minutes into the video, a firefighter identified as Tom DeMarco tries to put the fire out using a fire extinguisher.

The warrant notes that at the end of the video, “Tortora can be seen getting into his truck and driving away with the fire still ignited in the bed of his truck.”

Another firefighter identified as having been outside when the fire started “was not observed lighting the fire or helping spread it” in the surveillance footage, the warrant says.

The warrant notes that the flames charred the door of the firehouse and were about 30 yards away from the Pierpont building, which houses businesses and apartments.

The fire caused an estimated $450 in damages to the building.

The warrant says Bomba admitted to starting the fire during an interview with police, stating that he did so “just kidding around.”

In an interview with police Feb. 22 at the firehouse — where he was cleaning out his locker after being suspended — Tortora told detectives Bomba had started the fire.

When told the video depicted him helping to start the fire, he allegedly told police he did not remember that because he was drunk at the time.

At the time of his arrest, Tortora had two pending cases in Derby court.

He was charged by Shelton police last March with a misdemeanor violation of home improvement contractor requirements.

In a 2015 case, court records indicate he pleaded guilty to driving without insurance and missing a court date, with a “probation review” scheduled for March 27.

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