Authorities Say Fire in Downtown Woodstock Last Month ‘Purposefully Set’

  • Firefighters battle a blaze involving Pi Brick Oven Trattoria, The Vermont Standard, and The Collective in Woodstock on Monday, July 16, 2018. Double and triple roofs on some parts of the buildings made fighting the fire challenging. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/22/2018 3:23:46 PM

Woodstock — Officials say the fire last month that destroyed a pizza restaurant, damaged a weekly newspaper’s office, ruined an apartment, threatened an artisans’ gallery and displaced a family on Central Street in Woodstock was intentionally set.

Workers at the Vermont Forensic Laboratory recently examined debris samples taken from the building that housed Pi Brick Oven Trattoria, the Vermont Standard, and Collective, and they tested positive for accelerants used to increase the spread of fire, according to Vermont State Police Fire Investigator Steven Otis.

“This fire is now classified as incendiary, purposefully set,” Otis said in a news release issued on Wednesday.

The fire, which caused an estimated $1 million in damage, is believed to have started in a first-floor office space of the pizza restaurant, which occupied the majority of the first floor of the building at 47-55 Central St., officials said.

Otis didn’t say what type of accelerant was found within the material, but did say that laboratory workers are continuing to process evidence collected in the days following the July 16 fire.

Otis and Woodstock Fire Chief David Green continue to investigate and officials are offering a $5,000 cash reward for information that results in an arrest, according to the release.

The fire started around 3:30 a.m. and proved difficult to extinguish because of double and triple layers of roofing, Green said at the time.

The 47-55 Central St. area consisted of two buildings that are separated by a fire wall. The first is an old wooden structure that housed Pi, a family of two and their pets, and half of the offices of the Vermont Standard, and the second is an even older concrete structure next to Kedron Brook that is home to the other half of the Standard and Collective, the artisans’ gallery.

The wooden structure was a total loss; the Standard’s newsroom and production area and Collective suffered smoke and some water damage but were able to be remediated.

Anyone with information about the fire should call the Westminster Barracks at 802-722-4669 or provide a tip at 1-800-32-ARSON.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.




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