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State Rep: presence of space heaters being investigated Silver Sands fire

MILFORD - The controversial $10 million concessions stand and restrooms project, at Milford's Silver Sands State Park, went up in flames late Tuesday night, just two months prior to completion...

State Rep. Kim Rose (D-Milford) tells us a Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) official told her the contractor, Scope Construction of New Britain, had heaters operating on site Tuesday, in a building where some painting was being done. But, investigators are not confirming much of anything. Mayor Ben Blake (D-Milford) says, based on his conversations, its likely to be at least Thursday before a cause is determined.

"I heard the sirens about 10:40 and I said something big, I even muted my TV, because I knew something big was going on," said Mary Ann Bianchi, who has lived across the marsh from Silver Sands for nearly 40 years.

She says she couldn't wait for the project's completion, which was expected to in time for Memorial Day.

"People are worried about the environment and the birds and this and that, but the birds are going to come back and everything would be fine," Bianchi said, adding that she favors the upgrade, which includes an addition 100 parking spaces because "it’s just gonna bring more people and more revenue to the beach area."

The state police and state fire marshal's office have taken the lead in the investigation. At least two of the three buildings under construction are a total loss.

"Immediately I was like wow, this is crazy," said Leo Koutikas, who owns The Geek Spot Cafe, just a block from Silver Sands. And, initially, he wasn’t too keen on competing concessions.

"Then, as the years went by, I thought about it and I I kind of switched over," he said. "I thought it would be great and more people would be down here."

In fact, he had a meeting with state officials about running the concession stand at Silver Sands

"It was just last week," Koutikas said. "It’s a shame. A lot of people have been waiting for that."

The Department of Administrative Services, which oversees the construction, has begun coordinating meetings with Scope Construction and DEEP to determine next steps for the project.

Fox 61 reached out to Scope Construction, but their representative on site did not responded to a request for comment.

Some 250 thousand beach goers visit Silver Sands every year..

As the blaze was roaring, Donna Carty-Frank, a resident of East Broadway, which abuts Silver Sands, says fire tucks were passing her on her way home from work Tuesday night.

"My first thought was 'oh gosh, I hope it’s not my house or any of my neighbors houses,'" she said. "I couldn’t really tell what was going on and then, you know, it was very obvious."

Milford fire officials say the fire took two hours to put out.

Rose, who grew up on a neighboring beach, said her constituents were against the project because "they just felt that $10 million, and I have to agree with that point, at this economic time, in our state, is not the time to be spending money on a luxury project."

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