NEWINGTON - Fire heavily damaged the concession stand at Mill Pond Park early Friday.
A nearby resident was up and heard a crackling noise around 3:40 a.m., Police Chief Stephen Clark said. The resident saw the concession stand ablaze and called 911, Clark said.
Initial reports indicated that the fire started in a portable bathroom next to the concession stand and spread to the building, Sgt. Christopher Perry said.
A responding firefighter quickly doused a fire in another portable bathroom, about 100 yards from the concession stand, Clark said.
The state Fire Marshal’s Office was called in to help local fire officials in determining the cause and origin of the fires. The state collected evidence at the scene, Perry said.
Clark said the case will be turned over to police detectives, since both fires appeared suspicious.
Police are asking neighborhood residents if anyone saw anything suspicious, Perry said, adding that school resource officers and detectives who deal with juvenile crimes will be participating in the investigation, Perry said.
Clark and Parks and Recreation Department employees were surveying the damage done to the concession stand around 9:30 a.m. Friday.
At least one-fourth of the roof was burned out, with the awning in the same area charred and falling down. Debris covered the floor of the roughly 15-year-old building and the entire left side was blackened.
The stand is near an extensive playground area and a town swimming pool. The park is across the street from the police station and Town Hall.
The concession stand, which has an indoor bathroom, is used daily throughout the summer, said Recreation Supervisor Karen Gallicchio.
She and Recreation Specialist Joe Harvey were trying to figure out Friday morning how to provide bathroom facilities for a youth tennis tournament scheduled for today.
“Right now, we have no bathroom,” Harvey said. “This is mainly affecting the kids.”
Anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity early Friday at Mill Pond Park is asked to call the Newington Police Department at 860-666-4885.