SHELTON FIRE: Investigators search for origin and cause of blaze

Shelton Fire Marshal James Tortora inspects the Howe Avenue fire scene.
Shelton Fire Marshal James Tortora inspects the Howe Avenue fire scene.

The investigation into the downtown Shelton fire that destroyed most of a city block is continuing.

“We’re still digging and removing some debris,” Shelton Fire Marshal James Tortora said late Wednesday.

“It’s still under investigation,” Tortora said. “We have no cause or origin at this time.”

Firefighters on the scene during the blaze said the fire may have started in the basement, but that has yet to be confirmed or verified by officials.

“We’re thinking it started in the basement, but we’re not sure,” Nick Verdicchio, Shelton Fire Department spokesman, said initially as firefighting operations were beginning to wind down on Monday.

The investigation into the cause will led by the Shelton Fire Marshal’s Office, with assistance from other agencies such as the state Fire Marshal’s Office, State Police and Shelton Police Department.

Apartments, businesses impacted

The early morning fire on Jan. 6 destroyed structures on Howe Avenue between Center Street and Bridge Street/Viaduct Square, including 24 apartments and about a half dozen businesses.

The buildings dated back to the 1800s and were in the heart of the city’s central business district.

Part of a one-story building with several storefronts survived the fire and now has been boarded up with plywood, but its long-term future is uncertain.

Many remaining parts of the main four-story structure have been demolished with construction equipment during the past few days, with most of that building having collapsed during the fire.

More than 100 firefighters at scene

At the height of the blaze, more than 100 firefighters from Shelton’s four volunteer fire companies as well as fire personnel from surrounding towns were at the scene.

Some apartment residents had to be rescued with tower ladders by firefighters. Five individuals were taken to the hospital for medical attention, but none of the injuries were life-threatening. No firefighters were hurt during operations.