Vermont State Police fire investigators say there’s no update on the two fires that destroyed the Stoware Common building at 638 S. Main St. and damaged the Helen Day Memorial Building at 90 Pond St. on the same night.
But they’re likely looking closely at past fires in Stowe with suspicious origins, including one 10 years ago at the Helen Day Memorial Building.
Detective Sgt. Todd Ambroz, a fire investigator with the Vermont State Police, says there’s no update on the investigation, but the fires are being called suspicious.
Detective Sgt. Fred Whitcomb with the Stowe Police Department thinks the two fires are connected.
“How can we not? But we haven’t found a connection yet,” Whitcomb said.
Blazes in Stowe
Stowe has been the site of several fires deemed suspicious over the last decade.
Most notably, a fire in December 2009 at the Helen Day Art Center and Stowe Free Library building was called attempted arson.
It was being investigated by former Stowe Police Department officer Ed Stewart, and the case is still open, Whitcomb said.
He wouldn’t comment on whether the March 30 fire at the same building might be connected.
Other suspicious fires in Stowe include a rash in 2016, beginning with two on July 12. The first was at around 5 a.m. at 109 Main St., which houses apartments and Country Store on Main, and is owned by Graham and Cristina Mink. The second fire was spotted near midnight and destroyed a shed at Stowe Elementary School.
And a month later, on Aug. 11, 2016, a fire destroyed a six-bay garage owned by the Stowe Parks and Recreation Department, causing $174,000 worth of damage.
All these investigations are still open, said Whitcomb.
All are still deemed suspicious.
“These cases all remain under investigation, and we are working diligently to solve them,” Ambroz said.
What was damaged, lost
The building at 90 Pond St. usually houses Stowe Free Library and Helen Day Art Center, but both are operating out of satellite locations because a burst sprinkler caused flooding that severely damaged the building last December (see update on this page).
The fire at the library building started first, at about 11:15 p.m. March 30.
It was doused by Stowe Assistant Fire Chief Kyle Walker, who then made his way to the north Stoware Common building, where flames were burning out of control and firefighters from Stowe, Elmore, Waterbury, Morristown and Hyde Park were combatting the flames.
Now, a fence surrounds what’s left of the red building, which was home to five businesses — Uncle George’s Flowers, Lush Salon and Boutique, DeNoia’s Dry Cleaning, Ross Environmental Associates and LeBeau Kitchens and Baths.
It also housed the majority of Stowe Theatre Guild’s sets and costumes.
DeNoia’s Dry Cleaning has opened a temporary location at 673 S. Main St.; Ross Environmental Associates is operating out of Stowe Office Share at 166 South Main. LeBeau Kitchens and Baths is still operating its showroom on Thomas Lane.
Owner Steve Berson said last week he wanted to have it knocked down as soon as possible, so it could be rebuilt.
The building’s demolition is on the agenda for the Stowe Development Review Board, which meets tonight, April 18.