Shelton resident cited for open burning in brush fire

A Shelton woman has been given a citation for violating the city’s open burning ordinance, an act that allegedly led to a brush fire on Rocky Rest Road on the morning of May 1.

The individual given the citation lives on Rocky Rest Road, according to police.

Violation of the open burning ordinance is punishable by a fine up to $250 for each provision in the municipal law that is not obeyed.

According to the penalties section of the ordinance, “Any person or persons who violated any provision of this article as enacted, or who shall fail to comply with any notice or order of the fire marshal, shall be subject to arrest and prosecution by the proper authorities and may be fined two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) for each violation. A violation of each provision of this article shall constitute a separate offense.”

Read the city's open burning ordinance:

All four fire companies responded

Firefighters from all four of Shelton’s volunteer fire companies helped put out a brush fire in a wooded area off Rocky Rest Road on Wednesday, May 1.

The fire burned about an acre of land, fire officials said, and appears to have started after a homeowner allegedly started a controlled fire in her yard.

“The sparks from that fire started the [brush] fire,” said Fire Marshal James Tortora.

The emergency call came in at 10:35 a.m., and firefighters remained on scene for more than two hours, including time to put out hot spots and pack up equipment.

The area that burned is behind some houses on Rocky Rest Road, near Old Coram Road, and not visible from the road, fire officials said.

Joe Constantino, Shelton Fire Department assistant chief, oversaw firefighting efforts at the scene.

Challenging terrain

Paul Wilson, assistant chief of Echo Hose Hook & Ladder, said the fire was difficult because “the terrain was hard to navigate. It was all woods with thick brush.”

Water had to be brought to the scene in pumper trucks and other vehicles, with some water being transported by a 3,000-gallon pumper truck from a hydrant located thousands of feet away on the road. Upwards of 14,000 gallons of water may have been used to put out the blaze.

Nick Verdicchio, a Shelton Fire Department spokesman, said there were no firefighter or civilian injuries.

Fire departments from Derby, Monroe and Stratford provided mutual aid by covering the fire stations in Shelton while personnel and equipment from the Echo Hose, Huntington, Pine Rock Park and White Hills companies were battling the brush fire on Rocky Rest Road.

Conditions are dry now

Conditions are dry in Connecticut because of the lack of significant rainfall this spring.

“It’s pretty dry right now,” Tortora said.

Wilson said a mandatory no-burn policy for leaves and brush is in effect in the state because of the dry conditions. “It’s just extremely dangerous because it’s been so dry,” he said. “If anyone does illegal burns, they’re putting themselves and us in danger.”

Shelton police were called to the scene to investigate due to the apparent open burning by a homeowner, according to fire officials.

State: ‘High’ fire danger now

According to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) website, the forest fire danger level in Connecticut still was listed as “high" on May 2, the day after the brush fire occurred in Shelton,

“If you have received a permit from your local open burning official to burn brush on your property, the permit is not valid if the forest fire danger is rated high, very high or extreme and you are burning within 100 feet of a grassland or woodland,” states the DEEP website.