Trending Topics

Conn. fatal fire investigation shows landlord had previous safety violations

After two people died in an illegal attic apartment fire, records show the New Britain landlord had been uncooperative

Journal Inquirer

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — “The space at the basement level was constructed and occupied without the appropriate permits, applications and approvals,” the condemnation notice stated.

City officials previously issued a condemnation of the Cooper Street basement apartment in August 2022, documents show.

Days after the blaze, New Britain Health and Building Director Sergio Lupo said the tenants were trapped because the Belden Street attic apartment only had one exit.

PREVIOUSLY: Conn. woman dead in attic apartment during house fire

Just hours after the fire on Dec. 18, a city inspector issued detailed notes on his recent dealings with Tello to get him to fix the heat on the first floor of the Belden Street home where he was living. City officials confirmed the two people who died had been living in an illegal apartment in the attic that Tello had been told to dismantle in 2020 and in 2021, records show.

More than a week after the fire, New Britain officials on Wednesday said they still could not release the names of the people who died.

One person was found dead as firefighters were battling the two-alarm blaze and a second jumped from the home and died a few days later, according to Justin Dorsey, an aide to Mayor Erin Stewart. The cause of the fire is under investigation by the state fire marshal.

An inspector most recently visited the Belden Street property after receiving a tenant complaint on Nov. 16 about there being no hot water or heat on the first floor where Tello was living, the documents show.

In that case, Tello had rented a room in his own living space to a family of three who complained there was no heat, Lupo said.

At one point in the past several weeks, the city called Connecticut Natural Gas to shut off Tello’s gas due to a dangerous furnace condition, which was not getting repaired, Lupo said. The recent furnace issues were unrelated to the illegal attic apartment or the fire, Lupo said.

When the inspector arrived to deal with the complaint regarding the no heat and hot water, the entire building was not inspected because the issue was related to the first floor, Lupo said. By that point, the family that originally complained had moved out, he said.

As of a few days before the fire, the inspector noted that Tello “has not been cooperative and not complying,” which would lead to a notice of violation being filed with the court, city documents said.

(c)2023 Journal Inquirer, Manchester, Conn.
Visit Journal Inquirer, Manchester, Conn. at
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.