Arson at Milltown Tavern remains under investigation

By Lauri Voter - Staff Writer
Stafford - posted Mon., Jun. 6, 2011
The Milltown Tavern of Stafford Springs was heavily damaged by fire on May 31. The fire, which is determined to be arson, is under investigation. Posters have been placed on the building requesting information. Photos by Lauri Voter.
The Milltown Tavern of Stafford Springs was heavily damaged by fire on May 31. The fire, which is determined to be arson, is under investigation. Posters have been placed on the building requesting information. Photos by Lauri Voter.

Milltown Tavern, located at 36 West Main St. in Stafford Springs, was damaged by a fire that occurred in the early morning hours on May 31.

According to Stafford Fire Marshal Thomas Finch, two 911 calls were received at approximately 1:19 a.m. from two separate citizens residing in the vicinity of 36 West Main St., who said that they were awakened by the sound of an explosion and witnessed fire in the exterior of the tavern and in the building's kitchen area.

Finch said that West Stafford, Staffordville and Willington fire departments responded to the call, and that the fire was brought under control at approximately 2:10 a.m.

After making an initial discovery of a container in the building, Finch called in the State Fire Marshal's office, which, along with a State Police K9 unit, investigated for arson. Finch said that upon investigation, “eight pieces of evidence” were found on the scene. Among them were two 5-gallon containers that housed what Finch termed a “petroleum distillant” believed to be gasoline. An investigation of the accelerant is being conducted.

Finch also said that three points of accelerant were identified – one in the stairway, one in the kitchen and one in the basement.

Finch said that there are no suspects at this time, but that the matter has been elevated to the State Police Major Crimes Unit, and posters have been placed on the tavern structure seeking information about the incident.

According to Finch, both the business owner, Shawn Daigle, and the building owner, John Rossi, who also owns the neighboring Bakers Country Furniture building, have filed insurance claims.

“No one really disclosed any information that I know of. I don't truly have information, but what's been printed. Nothing's been reported to me as the owner," said Rossi. "We only have speculation. There's been a numerous amount of insurance, federal and state investigations. I don't believe it [the suspected arson] was aimed at us personally - Bakers Furniture or us. as a family,” said Rossi, who wants to assure the public that the tavern is a separate structure from the furniture store, and that Bakers Country Furniture was unaffected by the fire and is open for business.

Rossi said that, although he has not spoken directly with Daigle since the fire, he has seen Daigle at the location with the insurance company. As of June 3, Daigle has not responded to requests for comment left by the ReminderNews.

Finch said there was heavy fire damage in the tavern's kitchen, as well as heat and smoke damage throughout the building. He also said that no one was injured by the incident, which remains under investigation.

The State Police Major Crime Squad issued a press release in this matter which reads, “The property has been posted with a $2,500 reward funded by the Connecticut FAIRPLAN. Anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction in this criminal fire investigation can call 1-800-84ARSON (1-800-842-7766), all calls will be kept confidential.”

Contact Lauri Voter with comments and story ideas at lvoter@remindernet.com.


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