Firefighters battling the massive blaze in downtown Shelton this morning had to contend with water problems, according to Shelton Fire Department spokesman Nick Verdicchio.

Verdicchio said fire personnel tapped into two hydrants nearby but found the hydrants were frozen due to the recent extremely cold temperatures.

Then a water main broke at Howe Avenue and Bridge Street, further complicating firefighting efforts.

Shelton firefighters activated the Fairfield County Strike Force team to bring in water tankers to supply the large amounts of water needed for firefighting purposes.

The fire appears to have destroyed an entire 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 offices and residences on upper floors.

‘Major building collapse’

During the blaze, fire personnel also were confronted by “a major building collapse” involving a back section of the sprawling complex that was engulfed in flames, Verdicchio said.

He said the collapse occurred about a half hour after firefighters arrived at the scene.

The initial call for assistance came in at slightly after midnight, with firefighting efforts continuing for many hours, well into Monday morning.

More than 100 firefighters from Shelton and surrounding communities responded to the blaze, according to Verdicchio.

This included personnel from all four of Shelton’s volunteer fire companies as well as firefighters from about a dozen fire companies from nearby towns.