Silver Sands fire cleanup set to begin

State officials have not said yet if they know the cause of a fire that severely damaged two of three buildings under construction at Silver Sands State Park March 19, but some cleanup of the fire-ravaged site is expected to start this week or next.

“The insurance company has turned the site back over to the contractor, Scope, and they will be doing some cleanup,” said John McKay, a spokesman for the state Department of Administrative Services (DAS), which is overseeing the construction project.

McKay said Scope Construction of New Britain carried the insurance coverage at the time of the fire.

A Scope spokesperson said Monday that he is not allowed to comment on the project.

McKay didn’t know the extent of the cleanup that will now begin at Silver Sands. He said he doesn’t believe any of the burnt structures will be knocked down.

At the end of March, fire investigators finished their on-scene investigation into the boardwalk fire that destroyed part of the $9.1 million park improvement project.

Department of Energy and Environmental Protection spokesman Lee Sawyer said at the time that investigators were continuing to analyze evidence and interview individuals before determining the cause of the blaze.

“They are making good progress,” Sawyer said in March.

Sawyer could not be reached Monday for comment.

Sawyer previously said the state intends to complete the project, but funding depends on the insurance coverage, and whether it will be enough to cover repairs. Those factors hinge on the cause of the fire.

The new amenities at Silver Sands, including a concession stand, rest rooms and an office building on an elevated section of boardwalk, had been scheduled to open Memorial Day.

It cost the state $3 million to build the three buildings on the boardwalk, according to Sawyer, but he did not know if that price included the new section of boardwalk and the pilings.

Three Stratford teenagers have been charged with setting fires in four communities, including a fire in storage trailers at Silver Sands March 24, several days after the boardwalk fire.

Christopher Sakowicz and Vincent Keller, both 18, and 17-year-old Caleb Caraballo are charged in a string of fires, including the fire that destroyed the Shakespeare Theater in Stratford. A fourth teen has also been charged in connection with at least some of the fires but he is a juvenile and has not been identified publicly.

The Silver Sands boardwalk fire has not been ruled arson, and the teens are not suspects in that blaze.

The day after the boardwalk fire, sources, including State Rep. Kim Rose, D-Milford, said she was told painting had been done in one of the buildings before the fire broke out, and that some kind of heater may have been in use.