Several injured as landmark Shelton building burns and collapses

At least four people have been injured after a four-story mixed use building at 446 Howe Avenue in Shelton burned and then collapsed early this morning.

Firefighters and rescue workers from across the area responded to the scene, pulling several people out of the collapsed structure and plucking some from the upper floors with tower ladders.

The landmark building housed Howe Convenient, Liquid Lunch, a Chinese restaurant and a florist on the ground floor and apartments above. The fire was reported at 12:25 a.m., officials said, and the building burned for more than an hour.

Frozen hydrants made it difficult to supply water to the raging fire, Assistant Fire Chief Nick Verdicchio. Mutual aid from Ansonia, Derby, Seymour, Monroe, Stratford and Milford came to the scene or manned Shelton firehouses.

Verdicchio said that a firetruck was damaged when a street sign fell on it, when the 100- year-old building collapsed. He said at 5:30 a.m. that he believes that all of the tenants and firefighters have been accounted for.

The Hartford Courant reported that at the height of the fire, problems with water pressure required that a hydrant on the Derby side of the Housatonic River be connected and water brought to the scene through a series of hoses strung across Bridge Street.

About 15 people, mostly tenants from the building, are taking shelter in a nearby firehouse, according to scanner reports.  Crews were forced to withdraw several times as portions of the gutted building fell in.

The Valley Independent Sentinel reports that the fire appears to have started in the basement. The Valley Sentinel story is here.

We’ll have more details as they become available.

Frank Juliano