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4 Businesses Destroyed by Fire in Downtown Seymour, Asbestos Decontamination Underway

NBC Connecticut logo NBC Connecticut 4/23/2022 Jane Caffrey
Four businesses were destroyed in a structure fire in downtown Seymour. The town grapples with economic loss and asbestos decontamination. © Provided by NBC Connecticut

Four businesses were destroyed in a structure fire in downtown Seymour. The town grapples with economic loss and asbestos decontamination.

The town of Seymour is dealing with major damage in its downtown area. A historic building was destroyed by a huge fire Wednesday.

Now, decontamination is underway after the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection confirmed asbestos in the area.

Where there were once open signs at four local businesses, there are now signs warning about the asbestos contamination.

DEEP said there is no risk to the public, but fencing surrounds the structure where the fire left piles of debris and rubble.

“Devastating, very devastating. It's awful,” said Joanne Onofrio, the mom of the owner of Lina’s Touch Art Studio.

Many are taking in the destruction for the first time on Saturday, like Pam Dawkins Pieper, who owns the store GuitarFixer Bob just around the corner.  

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“I'm surprised nobody was really hurt. This is just, it's everything,” she said.

Seeing four businesses gutted by flames pulls at the heart strings of nearby business owners.

“When I think about the livelihoods that are lost here, it's damaging,” Dawkins Pieper said. “It's traumatic for the whole town and it's horrible for the people involved.”

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Where there is now charred rubble, there was a massage parlor and two antique shops.

“They’ve lost everything. I mean they’ve lost all the antiques, how do you get that back?” Onofrio said.

Fade Away Barbershop owned by Byron Dutan was also in the building and is destroyed.

“He’s a very sweet young man that really didn't deserve this,” Onofrio said.

Dutan posted on Facebook:

“...being a first time business owner and only being in business for one year and a half is devastating to see it all burn down. An unfortunate tragedy affected the lives of many in our town of Seymour...”

While grappling with the economic loss, the town also deals with decontamination.

“I really worry about that because my daughter comes down here. I mean, this is her studio, and she's here all the time,” Onofrio said.

After detecting asbestos, DEEP hired a contractor to clean the site, collect debris, and sweep the surrounding area. An inspector has given the owner of the property until Monday to demolish the rest of the building.

After so many hits to local businesses brought on by COVID-19, many are offering their sympathy to those now hit by hardship.

"I hope they're able to reopen,” Dawkins Pieper said. “It's been a traumatic two years for everybody, especially small business owners. And just to have another worry, something else piled on top of you, I really feel for them."

Right now, every effort is being made to protect the firefighters that were working at the scene. The Seymour Fire Department hired a decontamination company to clean all of their gear.

DEEP has connected every first responder at the fire with medical resources as a precaution.

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