Fire relief assistance office to open this week in Shelton

The federal Small Business Administration (SBA) expects to open a disaster relief office to assist those impacted by the Jan. 6 downtown fire this Wednesday in Shelton City Hall.

The SBA will make low-interest loans available to apartment residents, businesses, the property owner and others affected by the fire, which destroyed much of a city block in Shelton’s central business district.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was joined by U.S. Reps. Rosa DeLauro and Jim Himes, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, Mayor Mark Lauretti, SBA Connecticut District Administrator Bernard M. Sweeney and other officials to discuss the SBA assistance program on Saturday afternoon at the Echo Hose Hook & Ladder firehouse on Coram Avenue, near the fire scene.

“We obviously can’t turn back the clock and undo the damage done that day,” Malloy said, but assistance can be offered to help people get back on their feet.

Malloy said the fire has impacted many lives. “I know very well one of the residents who suffered a loss,” he said.

The fire displaced 29 people from 23 apartments, and more than a half-dozen businesses from Howe Avenue storefronts.

Time to ‘begin the recovery’

Sweeney said in addition to apartment residents, businesses and the property owner, the loans can help others negatively impacted by the ripple effect of the fire.

This might include businesses that were vendors to the eight businesses on the property that now are closed.

Sweeney said the immediate reaction of residents and business owners after the fire was shock, but now is time for the next stage in the process. “We’re here to begin the recovery,” he said.

Firefighters’ efforts praised

The press conference also highlighted the efforts of Shelton volunteer firefighters to battle the Jan. 6 blaze as well as many other fires in recent weeks.

In fact, Shelton fire personnel responded to a house fire on Constitution Boulevard North on the morning of the press event. And earlier this week, a Jan. 22 fire at a Howe Avenue multifamily structure led to the death of a 52-year-old man.

On Jan. 22, Echo Hose firefighter Chris Jones helped four people escape from the structure to prevent further loss of life or harm. Jones was praised for his actions by public officials on Saturday.

During the Jan. 6 fire, some residents were rescued from third-floor windows by Shelton firefighters using tower ladders.

Himes said the firefighters’ efforts are a reminder “of the work you do and the risks you take.”

DeLauro said the firefighters' efforts on Jan. 6 were “extraordinary” and “saved lives.”

Malloy said the firefighters “performed so magnificently” while battling such a massive blaze.