Updated: Tuesday, 07 Sep 2010, 10:29 PM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 07 Sep 2010, 5:27 AM EDT
Montville, Conn. (WTNH) - Crews were on the scene on Chapel Hill Road in the Oakville section of town for most of the morning.
This was a tough fire to fight. There are no hydrants in this part of town. A washed out bridge slowed down response time. That meant a lot of damage to businesses in this shopping center.
Someone driving by around 1 a.m. noticed flames in one storefront in the Oakdale Plaza. Within minutes, the fire spread up into the shared roof area.
"Within half an hour pretty much the whole complex was engulfed," Lt. Micah Messer of the Oakdale Fire Department said. "Most of the businesses are lost. There's about nine businesses, eight of them are heavily damaged or gone."
"I just bought brand new bar stools - well, my son did, him and I - brand new coolers. Brand new everything."
Yaworski was two weeks from opening a bar and café. Her business is where the flames seemed to start. Next door was Oakdale Pizza, an institution around here since 1974.
"My kids and my wife, we work really hard at that pizza house and now it's all gone," said Simo Fotiadis, owner of Oakdale Pizza. "Unbelieveable."
There was a huge response by fire departments from miles around, but no fire hydrants meant they had to bring water in tanker trucks. Getting those trucks there took longer because they had to take a 6-mile detour around the Oxoboxo Bridge. It was damaged by floodwater in March and still hasn't been repaired.
"The bridge is closed which made a big difference for mutual aid," Messer said. "They actually had to go around to get here, so that slowed them down getting the water here."
That water came too late to save Dottie's business. She's not sure what she'll do now.
"I don't know," Yaworski said. "Find me a rich man and get married, I guess, so I won't have to work."
"No, I was supposed to go for my insurance [Tuesday]," Yaworski said.
Yaworski says in her café, the gas was not turned on yet, nothing was plugged in, so she can't figure out how the fire could have started in there. That's why the State Police Fire Marshal's office is here to investigate a cause.