One month later, questions remain in Legends firePublished 10:43am Wednesday, December 2, 2009
By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star
One month after fire turned the once popular Legends restaurant in Edwardsburg into a total loss, investigators are still trying to determine just what happened in the early morning hours of Oct. 26.
While they search for answers, what there seems to be a lot of are questions, specifically regarding the restaurant’s owner, Troy Treat.
Rumors circulating throughout the community seem revolve around Treat’s history – a history that includes other incidents of fire at previous properties as well as supposed run-ins with the Department of Natural Resources.
Local authorities, while still insistent they want to talk to anyone who may have information regarding the October fire, say that many of the rumors are unsubstantiated.
“I’ve heard a lot of rumors about Troy Treat, but that’s not one of them,” said Edwardsburg Police Chief Kenneth Wray when asked about a claim that Treat’s farm, supposedly worth $1 million, was confiscated by federal authorities.
The Michigan State Police have taken control of the investigation, though Edwardsburg police continue to conduct interviews.
Treat has not commented since the incident. Wray and Michigan State Police Det. Fabian Suarez, of the Niles Post, say they haven’t spoken to him, a fact that might play a part in rumors that Treat has left the country.
“He’s from a small town where rumors run rampant,” Suarez said, adding authorities were in contact with Treat’s legal representation, which he retained immediately following the fire.
On Monday, Wray said he hadn’t heard from or seen Treat in a couple of weeks, but added that was not out of the ordinary.
“To not see Troy is not unusual for a month,” he said.
Suarez gave no validity to the rumor but added there were no stipulations or official documents that stated Treat was not to leave the United States.
Edwardsburg Fire Chief Willy Eltzroth said Tuesday he acknowledges previous fires, but said they took place at Treat’s “rental properties” and insisted he felt they were unrelated.
Eltzroth said one incident that took place at a Century 21 property allegedly started when an extension cord short circuited. The second was a “suspicious” fire at a pharmacy, with suspicion lying with the pharmacist, and the third, Elzroth recalled, was at a garage owned by Treat “in the middle of nowhere.” Though that structure was not equipped with utilities, Elzroth said the fire was the result of juveniles committing acts of vandalism in the area.
In the hours after the fire a month ago, as officials began looking closer at the scene, Elzroth told the Star he’d felt the fire was “set.”
Asked if he believed any of the incidents, including the fire in October, were related, Elzroth was emphatic.
“No,” he said. “I do not.”
Though many of stories being heard about town seem to be only rumor, Suarez said that when it comes to the investigation all elements relative to the case are looked over carefully.
“Any time there is an arson, (a) business that deals with a lot of money, you’ve got to look at the history,” he said.
“It’s going to take months,” Suarez added. “It’s nothing that’s going to happen next week. Arson is a very delicate situation.”
The Edwardsburg Police Department and the Michigan State Police continue to encourage anyone who might have information that could help in the investigation of the Legends fire to contact them immediately.