Update: Fire damages Austin business

Published 12:12 pm Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Austin firefighters responded to a structure fire at the Restaurant Warehouse Tuesday evening in northeast Austin. - Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Bob Nelson, owner of Restaurant Warehouse, said he is in “disbelief” after a fire tore through his business causing “extensive structure damage” Tuesday evening.

Fire Chief Mickey Healey said a passerby noticed smoke pouring out the windows of the Restaurant Warehouse, located at 608 10th St. NE, around 5:35 p.m. Austin Fire Department trucks arrived by 5:45 p.m.

Smoke billows from a second-floor window at the Restaurant Warehouse as an Austin firefighter breaks the window for ventilation Tuesday evening. - Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Nobody was in the building when the blaze began. Nelson and his family were at the Mower County Fair when it started.

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Healey would not comment on whether the cause of the blaze may be suspicious.

The back of the building sustained heat and smoke damage, but the front office and display area only had light smoke damage, Healey said.

Nelson said he has a concession stand at the Renaissance Festival, and about $15,000 of products for the stand were on the loading dock waiting to be shipped to the Twin Cities Wednesday morning. Nelson said most of the concession stand products were likely ruined since the fire kept toward the back of the building, where the loading dock is located.

The warehouse had between $100,000 and $150,000 of merchandise in it during the fire, Nelson said. He said he is fully insured.

Austin firefighters had the fire under control after about 30 minutes, according to Healey. It took another hour for smoke to clear and for the fire department to do a walk-through and clear the building. The investigation started around 7:45 p.m.

During the course of the fire, firefighters had to string hoses around the block for water access. They also raised the basket crane for roof access but did not need to use it.

The Austin Fire Department was called to the Restaurant Warehouse in June for a small fire caused by holiday decorations that spontaneously combusted. Healey said a link between the two fires is being investigated but he is “skeptical” of the likelihood.

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