Chimney collapses leaving hole in Derby Main Street building

March 25, 2019

DERBY-Last week it was stucco falling off.

Now the chimney has collapsed spewing brick and mortar onto Main Street Sunday afternoon.

Mayor Richard Dziekan was meeting with his staff Monday morning to discuss what to do with the four-story building at 195 Main Street just across the street from the ongoing state demolition of four buildings..

This is the same building the city deemed unsafe earlier this month and considered demolishing it until the owner’s lawyer stepped in.Michael Hillis, a local defense lawyer and principal in Derby Shores, LLC presented the city with a structural engineer’s report claiming the building was sound.

A message was left at Hillis’ law office in New Haven early Monday morning for a response.

Then the chimney collapsed shortly after 2 p.m. Sunday.

“There’s a big hole in the roof where the chimney had been,” said Mayor Richard Dziekan. “Fortunately no one got hurt but I am told one of the pieces came close to hitting a car.”

“We’ve got the sidewalk cordoned off and a firewatch assigned,” said Thomas Biggs, the chief at the nearby Paugassett Hook and Ladder Co. on Route 34 and the city’s third assistant chief.

It was a firewatch working the state Department of Transportation’s demolition of four buildings on the south side of Main Street that first noticed issues with 195 Main Street. That firewatch was established to work from 4 p.m. to 9 a.m. while the demolition of the four buildings was ongoing. That work is the first step in the state’s plan to widen Route 34/Main Street into four lanes beginning next year.

“They saw the chimney titling to a 45 degree angle,” Dziekan said.

The mayor ordered a firewatch established at the scene which is near a bus stop. He also closed off the sidewalk around the building for the last two weeks.

Dziekan said the state Department of Transportation has been informed of Sunday’s incident.

Hillis had said Derby Shores LLC is suing MESA Underwriters Specialty Insurance Company of New Jersey in Milford Superior Court. The suit accuses the insurer of failing to pay for damage the roof sustained during the blizzard that began Feb. 9, 2013. The suit claims the heavy snowfall and strong winds caused damage to the roof.

MESA has hired a lawyer to challenge the claims. No hearings have been scheduled.

Dziekan said he was told by the owners that would be putting up scaffolding and netting while they repair the facade. However the mayor expressed concern that the current damage involving the hole in the roof could lead to further damage inside if it is open for rain and wind.