Shelton Fire Chief Fran Jones said firefighters arriving at the scene of the early morning blaze on Howe Avenue used an “aggressive interior attack” approach to save lives and prevent even further structural damage.

“This was a particularly challenging fire because it was completely occupied,” Jones said of residential units in the city block on Howe Avenue between Center Street and Bridge Street/Viaduct Square, on the Coram Avenue side.

The block includes such businesses as Liquid Lunch and Howe Convenient on the first floor as well as residences and a few offices on upper floors.

‘Heroic effort’ to save lives

Jones said 28 people were rescued from apartments, including some through the use of ladders by firefighters.

“A real heroic job was done by Shelton firefighters to make all the rescues,” he said.

Fire personnel from Shelton’s four volunteer fire companies were aided by firefighters from many fire departments in surrounding towns, which came to the scene.

Firefighters also faced problems with frozen fire hydrants and a broken water main, leading them to seek assistance from the Fairfield and New Haven county fire task forces. Two water tanks, carrying 2,000 gallons and 3,000 gallons of water, were sent to the scene by the task forces, Jones said.

Building remnants being demolished

As of about 4 p.m. on Monday, construction equipment is being used to tear down the remnants of the structures in the city block.

It appears that all buildings may have to be taken down due to fire damage.

“It’s all gone,” Mayor Mark Lauretti said of the city block earlier in the day. “It’s now for the history books.”

Some of the structures in the city block date back to 1850, according to city officials.