MILFORD — Launched Saturday afternoon, a fundraising site for a Milford pub that
    burned to the ground earlier in the day has reached its original $20,000 goal.

    Three hours after The Tradesman was razed at 1 p.m., a GoFundMe account was
    created to help support the restaurant's owner and employees. Just after 7:30 p.m.
    Sunday, thanks to a $500 donation, the total crested the $20K mark and was over
    $21,000 as of 10 p.m.

    The largest donation is $1,000 and there have been five others of $500.

    Head cook Nick DiGellonardo was in the kitchen at The Tradesman on Saturday when
    he opened a door leading upstairs — and was met with roaring flames.

    He slammed the door shut and ran across the kitchen.

    “I had never run so fast,” he said.

    As about 10-15 customers and other employees flooded out the back and front doors,
    DiGellonardo said he raced around the building to make sure no one else was inside,
    then grabbed his car keys on the way out.

    He was the last person in the building, he said.

    “I had to make sure (everyone was out) — they’re all my friends,” said DiGellonardo, a
    Milford resident who has worked at the restaurant for 11 years. “It was a close one — it
    went up fast.”

    When DiGellonardo finally escaped the building, it was engulfed in smoke, he said.

    “I couldn’t breathe — that’s how heavy the smoke was,” he said. About a minute later,
    the building was consumed by flames, he said.

    The Tradesman, a popular music venue, bar and restaurant at 284 West St., burned
    down about 1 p.m. Saturday, just two hours after it opened for the day. Milford Fire Chief
    Mark Nelson called it a total loss, and said an excavator was later brought in Saturday
    night to knock down the building.

    The property was last assessed at $320,700, according to Town of Milford property

    The cause of the fire is still under investigation but has been ruled unintentional, he said.

    When Mendon resident Julie Atherton's father called her to say The Tradesman had
    caught fire, she immediately drove over.

    Atherton, who fundraises for the Autism Resource Center, said The Tradesman's owner,
    Rob DeDominick, is among her top supporters.

    "It's just so sad," she said, as she watched smoke billow from the building. “He’s very
    kind, so the community’s going to rally around him."

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