Friday fire destroys home in Shelton; Neighbor was told, 'You have to get out!'

A house on High Plains Road in Shelton appears to have been destroyed by fire Friday morning. (Photos by Brad Durrell)

Firefighters from all four of Shelton’s volunteer fire departments as well as Derby were on the scene. The fire appeared to be mostly out as of 11 a.m.

Smoke from the blaze was visible from a distance, going high up into the air. It could be seen from vehicles traveling on Route 8, near downtown Shelton.

Closer to the fire scene, for awhile flames could be observed shooting out of the roof, in the attic area.

It is not believed that anyone was home at the time, although the condition of a family dog inside the house is unknown. (Update: A fire official has since confirmed the dog perished.)

The badly damaged house is at 9 High Plains Road.

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A family lives in the house

Neighbors said a couple lives in the house with three children and a dog, having purchased the home about two years ago. One other adult also may reside in the house, they said.

“I know them,” said Kimberly Hartman, who lives across the street on High Plains Road. “I was just there. They invited us over for tea. I feel real bad for them.”

Hartman, like many of her neighbors, was out in her yard to observe the firefighting efforts.

She said no one appears to have been home at the time of the fire because there were no cars in the driveway.

However, she was worried about the family pet, a white-colored dog named Lucky. “I hope they were able to save him,” Hartman said.

Multiple fire trucks lined up

Fire trucks were lined up on a steep hill near the impacted structure, with fire hoses positioned in the roadway to provide water.

High Plains Road is a hilly dead-end street off Long Hill Avenue, on the southern outskirts of downtown Shelton. It is not too far from Exit 13 of Route 8 (Constitution Boulevard). A section of Long Hill Avenue was closed during firefighting efforts.

Smelled and saw smoke

Hartman said she smelled something and saw smoke coming out of the chimney in the house across the street. “I figured they were burning something,” she said.

But she soon began to smell and see more smoke and realized something was wrong. Then a nearby resident told her, “The back of the house is on fire.”

Michael Tomko owns a house adjacent to the fire-damaged structure, and didn’t realize anything was wrong at first.

'You have to get out!'

Someone then came running into the Tomko house and shouted, “The house next door is on fire and you have to get out!”

Tomko and his wife quickly went outdoors. “As soon as I came out, I could smell the smoke,” he said. “The house was engulfed — it was going pretty good.”

He said he heard some popping noises, which he thinks might have been from an outdoor grill on the deck of the damaged house.

“We have a lot of good firefighters here,” Tomko said as he observed the scene.

Kathryn Skurat, who lives one house removed from the impacted home, realized something was amiss when she heard a vehicle pull in near her driveway and car doors slam. “I looked out and saw smoke,” she said.

Later, she was watching over the firefighting operations with her neighbors and hoping for the best. “It’s frightening,” Skurat said.

Warned neighbors of the fire

Ray Potkay and Nick Mozisek of West Haven-based McGuire Electric were driving on the highway when they saw the smoke and pulled over to check on the situation.

The fire had just started and they ran inside a nearby house and told an older couple to get out immediately.

“They didn’t know what was going on, but their bushes were on fire,” Potkay said of the neighbors. “We told them they had to get out now. They put their shoes on and got out.”