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December 17. 2013 10:25PM

Woodshed restaurant fire investigation continues

MOULTONBOROUGH — The investigation into the Thanksgiving night fire that destroyed the historic Woodshed restaurant is about to enter its third week and authorities say they still haven't found what caused it, and they are interviewing employees of the restaurant in their search for clues.

The cause of the fire was not apparent in the days after the fire, which was reported just before 10 p.m. on Nov. 28 by a neighbor.

Employees said the last person out of the building left at 9 p.m.Local and state fire investigators are not expecting to find the cause anytime soon, said Fire Investigator Bill Clark of the state Fire Marshal's Office.

When a cause is not immediately apparent in a large, long-burning fire such as the Woodshed fire, the investigation can take weeks, he said.

"We're still very deep in the process of investigating this fire," Clark said.

The 2,000-square-foot building restaurant, once a 19th-century former farmhouse, was converted to a restaurant approximately 40 years ago, said part-owner Scott Ouellette, who bought the restaurant about a year ago with three other partners.

Burned in the fire were 40 years of collected memorabilia and photos of famous people, like actor Henry Fonda as he ate there. To many, the restaurant was a landmark in the Lakes Region.The owners of the restaurant, which was valued at $401,500, according to town tax records, said they haven't decided yet whether to rebuild.

After the fire, there was immediate concern for the 40 employees of the restaurant, who were left without work. The restaurant owners said they were aided by a state group in helping many of them with immediate aid, and some have been hired at the owners' other restaurants in the area.

Fire investigators have gone through the "fire debris," Clark said, as part of the physical part of the investigation. They are still going through what's left of the house."Collapsed debris creates more of a challenge," he said.

The second part of the investigation is interviewing employees and people who were last seen at the restaurant.

"We're going through the interview phase of the investigation, there are a number of people who worked there and people who were there that night that we are interviewing," Clark said.

dseufert@newstote.com


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