The Oct. 24 fire at the under-construction Shore Restaurant, 800 Broadway, Longboat Key, has been under investigation by the state fire marshal and preliminary findings reveal it was likely accidental.
Lance Tompkins, public information officer with the State Division of Investigative and Forensic Services, made the statement.
“Nothing says suspicious in nature at this time,” Tompkins told The Islander Dec. 11. “The investigation is still open — some lab results are still out.”
Tompkins said the file would be closed when all lab results are in-hand and the entities involved in the investigation have filed reports.
Just after 10 p.m. Oct. 24, firefighters from the West Manatee, Sarasota County and Longboat Key fire departments responded to the construction site in the village on the north end of Longboat Key.
They found the new building ablaze, with “heavy fire showing from the entrance,” according to a news release Oct. 25 from Longboat Key Fire Rescue.
The fire marshal was summoned, secured the scene and called an arson dog to the site.
The news release stated the dog was “normal operating procedure to assist with locating any accelerants.” It also stated, “This does not indicate the fire was arson, rather it provides further evidence to assist with a complete investigation.”
According to the official LKFR report filed after the fire, the loss to the structure was estimated at $500,000 and content loss estimated at $50,000. Pre-incident values were listed as $4 million for the property and $100,000 for contents. The most recent report from Tompkins estimated $150,000 in damages.
The Shore was nearing completion at the time of the fire, with an expected January opening.
No new plans for an opening have been announced.
Detective Mike Douglas of the Florida State Fire Marshal Office was the lead investigator.
Tom Leonard, co-owner of the Shore with John Mays, said Dec. 13 the company was being aggressive on scheduling and getting back on track to open.
“It’s coming together,” Leonard said. “We are shooting for a February opening, although it might be late February. The town, the fire department, everyone has been great to work with us.”
Leonard said the fire was “definitely accidental.”
— Sandy Ambrogi