Tuesday March 26, 2013

NEAL P. GOSWAMI

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- Repairs needed after a fire Friday at a state welcome center under construction will be covered by the contractor, a state official said Monday.

State Buildings and General Services Commissioner Michael Obuchowski said Monday that some repairs are required after a contractor’s heating unit sparked a fire to the outside of the partially constructed building. Damage could be seen on the south facade Friday evening shortly after the Bennington Rural Fire Department extinguished flames.

According to Obuchowski, the fire started when a mason’s heater caused flammable material nearby to catch on fire. "I was told in a meeting today that the heating units used by the mason Š somehow caught the covering on fire," he said.

No cost estimate was available on Monday, Obuchowski said. However, the state contract with the mason requires "builder’s risk" insurance, which will cover the cost of all damages.

"Our contract with the contractor called for them to have that in their insurance," he said.

It remains unclear if the fire, which was extinguished quickly by firefighters to avoid significant damage, will lead to any significant delay.

"We’re looking to a mid-summer opening and hopefully we’ll be able to stay on schedule," Obuchoski said. "There are repairs Š to electrical systems that will have to be made and some other structural and cosmetic repairs," he said.

The welcome center sits in the middle of the Route 279 system interchange. The facility will be run by the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce when it opens.