Blaze strikes site of narcotics bust
By HAROLD F. COBIN
Norwalk Hour Correspondent
NORWALK — Three people were arrested Wednesday morning in an Aiken Street house that later caught fire.
The events began in the morning when Detective Eileen Northcott arrived at 4 Aiken St. to investigate a "tip" on a house burglary that occurred elsewhere.
Northcott said she was permitted to enter the house and saw drugs "in plain sight."
Northcott said she called the Special Services Division, whose officers handle vice crimes, and the three people on the first floor of the house —Zachary Zamfino, Heather Kruger and Matt Gabrielson — were arrested.
Each was charged with failure to keep a prescribed narcotic drug in the container in which it was dispensed, possession of drug paraphernalia, manufacture, distribution or sale of marijuana, and possession of marijuana.
Each was held in lieu of $50,000 bond.
Lt. Peter Randall, commander of the Special Services Division, said Zamfino also was charged with criminal mischief for allegedly damaging his cell in Norwalk Police lock-up.
Northcott said Zamfino damaged a bed and a telephone.
The damage Zamfino allegedly caused resulted in his being charged with two counts of third-degree criminal mischief, resulting in his being held on an additional $5,000 in bonds.
Kruger also was charged with second-degree burglary and third-degree larceny, and she and Zamfino were charged with conspiracy to commit third-degree larceny.
Northcott said Kruger burglarized a friend's home.
Both Kruger and Zamfino had additional bonds of $5,000 placed against them for these charges.
A tenant who lives on the house's second floor, Corrie Todd, said she smelled smoke Wednesday afternoon and called 911. She then fled the house with her dog, Sasha.
The Fire Department was notified of the fire at 4:46 p.m.
Firefighters were able to contain the fire to a room on the first floor in front of the house. The furnishings in the room were charred and smoke spread throughout the first floor.
Todd said some smoke entered her apartment, but she believed she could continue to live there. However, the Fire Department had the house's gas and electricity turned off, and Todd was told she would have stay somewhere else at least for one night.
Todd said she believed Kruger was renting the first floor of the house.
A woman at the scene of the fire who said she is Zamfino's mother said he was sub-leasing the room that burned from Kruger.
The woman said 11 cats, two snakes and an iguana lived in the house.
She said she thought the fire was caused by a heat lamp for the snakes or the iguana being tipped over by police while they were searching the house.
Randall said five of the cats were taken away by the city's animal control warden while police were at the house in the morning.
Northcott said she called the warden because the cats appeared to be in poor health. She said she thought seven cats were removed by the warden.
Firefighters found a dead cat in the house. Another cat was captured by bystanders at the scene, and firefighters said several cats were running around in the backyard.
The woman said she believed the snakes and iguana were dead.
Thursday, July 19, 2007