Fire marshal provides new details about Waterbury fire - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Fire marshal provides new details about Waterbury fire

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Four homes were destroyed by a fire in Waterbury on Wednesday night. (WFSB photo) Four homes were destroyed by a fire in Waterbury on Wednesday night. (WFSB photo)

Waterbury's fire marshal released some new information about a massive fire that destroyed four homes and left a dozen families without a place to stay.

Fire marshal Terry Ballou provided the update on the investigation at 11 a.m.

He said a cause for the fire has yet to be determined because of the scope of what happened.

"We've concluded our physical examination of the scene," Ballou said. "We've moved into an interview phase."

Once that phase is complete, they'll look at both aspects and make a determination.

Following reports that a tenant heard an explosion, Ballou said it could have been one of many things.

"Certainly gas is a possibility, but it's not the only explanation," Ballou said. "it could be something as simple as an aerosol can, spray paint cans [or] hair spray cans."

However, natural gas has been ruled out as a cause.

In the meantime, the community is coming together to help the victims.

Crews didn’t waste any time in demolishing the homes as the city determined they were too dangerous to leave standing.

The intense flames moved quickly on Wednesday night.

The terrain and the wind made the fight especially difficult.

"It's not just the wind," said Michael Couture, assistant fire chief, Waterbury Fire Department. "It's the building construction features, it's the topography. That is the Naugatuck Valley from South Main Street. From that point heading up Baldwin Street, that's all up hill. So you have buildings that are right next to each other that are higher than one another."

Couture said those factors contribute to exposure issues and fire spread issues.

"Instead of losing those four homes, we could have lost more homes and lives," said Rep. Geraldo Reyes, a Democrat from Waterbury.

Waterbury firefighters spent four hours getting them under control and stayed through the night and into morning making sure hot spots didn’t reignite.

Five firefighters were hurt battling the flames. All of them have since been released from the hospital.

"They've all been released to full duty," Couture said. "We certainly appreciate their service [and] their hard work."

Thirty-two people are homeless and the Red Cross is helping. Eyewitness News was told those families have a place to stay.

Some people were only left with the clothes they had on as they ran out of their burning homes.

Thursday, donations were already coming into the senior center on East Liberty Street.

The investigation continues into what sparked the first fire - that spread like a chain reaction to three other homes.

Investigators said they have not ruled out arson.

A community meeting took place Friday at 10 a.m. at the River-Baldwin Recreation Center on East Liberty Street. That's also where donations were made to the families.

"Rather than send people to point A, point B [or] point C, why don't we all congregate in the community and [collect] whatever they need," Reyes said.

They'll be collecting donations through early June.

Nonprofit organizations were also there to provide additional support and resources.

Reyes said the families were able to go there and get necessary paperwork they lost.

Those who donated said it's important to come together in a time of need.

"Some of these men, all they have is the shirt on their back," said John Murray of Waterbury. "You have to rebuild an entire wardrobe. So I just pulled some stuff out and brought it down."

Future donations for the families can be made to the Hispanic Coalition in Waterbury, which is located in the recreation center. Organizers will be there again on Saturday.

On June 3, they'll be assisting in the reopening of a park which was dedicated to a firefighter who lost his life. There, they'll organize a massive collection for the families. 

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