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Building Fire / Boston Post Road / Milford CT / August 2011

Five businesses and one vacant store destroyed in this multi-alarm fire at a Type III strip mall.

Fit 20
749 Boston Post Road
Milford, CT

For Lease
751 Boston Post Road
Milford, CT

Vinny's Adults Only Video
753 Boston Post Road
Milford, CT

Looks Hair Design
755 Boston Post Road
Milford, CT

Sante's Barber Shop
757 Boston Post Road
Milford, CT

Convenience Junction
759 Boston Post Road
Milford, CT

After fire, future uncertain for Milford shopping center, businesses

Frank Juliano, Staff Writer
Updated 11:48 p.m., Wednesday, August 3, 2011

MILFORD -- Investigators combed through the charred shell of a Boston Post Road shopping center Wednesday morning, while store owners and employees planned their next move.

The fire that gutted the five-unit center near the corner of North Street apparently started at the back of a convenience store, and sent heavy black smoke through the ceiling tiles of the adjoining shops. The fire department was called at about 7:50 p.m. on Tuesday, and the blaze was brought under control about an hour later.

The cinderblock structure still had its decorative awnings in place, but the inside of the building was gutted.

Building Inspector Thomas Raucci Jr. visited the site early Wednesday and planned to return. Raucci has not determined yet whether the building can be rehabilitated. Diana Sullivan, co-owner with her husband, Mark, of Look Hair Design, said all of the salon's equipment was damaged or destroyed in the blaze. "We will definitely be back, whether it's here or someplace else, but I have nothing to announce at this time,'' she said.

Alicia Simone, a stylist at Sullivan's salon, said the business was preparing to close for the night when the receptionist smelled smoke and called 911. "She asked me if I smelled it, and I did,'' Simone said.

"It was like wood smoke, and it was coming from the back of the tobacco store. It spread really fast but everybody got out safely.''

The store, Convenience Junction, had closed shortly before the fire began, Simone said. It is on the left end of the plaza, closest to North Street. The only other business that was open when the blaze broke out was Vinny's, an adult bookstore. Sante's Barber Shop and Fit 20 gym are also in the plaza at 755 Boston Post Road.

The building is owned by Balance Asset Management LLC, and is appraised at $513,000, according to land records. Representatives of the owners have been contacted and are expected to come to the site, said Andy Vargo, a Milford Fire Department inspector. "We're just beginning our investigation at this point, so we don't know the cause yet,'' Vargo said.

Detective Frank Gall, a Milford police forensic specialist, was photographing the scene and assisting the fire department. A hose still snaked along the sidewalk at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, but it had been uncoupled from the fire truck parked in the shopping center lot.

The shoulder of the Boston Post Road in front of the building was cordoned off, and police directed traffic around it. Glass, charred wood and plastic lay in the parking lot.

Simone, who was watching from the front of the restaurant next door, said that the impact of the fire hasn't hit her yet. "We're closed on Wednesday so I'll feel it tomorrow when I would have gone in,'' she said.

2011 Hearst Communications Inc.

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