Madison Fire Marshal Sam DeBurra said the cause of Thursday's early morning fire “appears to be accidental.” Twelve hours after the fire was first reported at 3:30 a.m. yesterday, DeBurra remained at the scene at 736 Boston Post Road as workers began the process of boarding up the building.
Investigations by DeBurra’s office and the State Fire Marshal’s Office were conducted into the cause and origin of the blaze. “It may have started in the rear of Village Pizza and Restaurant,” DeBurra said, however, the investigation continues. Insurance investigators and utility personnel will also inspect the scene. “We hope to rule out some possibilities and have an exact cause in a day or two.”
Until that time, the building will remain boarded and sealed. Once the investigations are complete, the building will be demolished.
Traffic was being rerouted along the town’s main street throughout the day and that is likely to continue as a matter of public safety, Police Commander John Rich said. A water truck, a piece of construction equipment and the State Fire Marshal’s investigation van were parked in front the burned-out building through the late afternoon Thursday. Traffic will continue to be rerouted as necessary, including at the time of demolition. Power was lost for some time along the south side of the Boston Post Road from Route 79 to Wall Street, although not all buildings on the street lost power.
Commander Rich said the building alarm came into the dispatch center at approximately 3:30 a.m. Patrol Officer Ben Hoffman was on duty in the area and responded to the dispatch call. He immediately saw heavy smoke coming from the rear roof of the building and the town’s two fire companies were called to the scene. They were later aided by fire companies from adjoining towns. “The fire departments did an exceptional job of keeping the fire contained to one building and preventing its spread,” Rich said.
Town records show the building is owned by Joseph, Gilliam and Christopher Hill. For decades it has been the home of Village Pizza and Restaurant and the Madison Wine Shop, both on the ground floor and fixtures on the main street of the downtown business area. A second floor housed Madison Financial Investments, JAH III Properties LLC, and JHKL Holdings LLC, according to the latest filing in the assessor’s office. It was a wood frame building heated with gas and propoane.
First Selectman Fillmore McPherson called the fire “a tragic loss for the business owners and a tragic loss for our downtown…Both these businesses have been bulwarks of our downtown area and the Madison community for decades. We are pleased, first, that no one was injured, and second, that the fire departments were able to totally confine the blaze to the one building. It was an outstanding effort.”
McPherson said he had spoken to the owners of both businesses “and each indicated that they would like to reopen. Obviously this is early days, but they are looking ahead.”