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Members of the Idaho Springs restaurant community are lending a helping hand after a grease fire last Friday morning temporarily left Mangia! Casual Italian restaurant closed for repairs. According …
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Members of the Idaho Springs restaurant community are lending a helping hand after a grease fire last Friday morning temporarily left Mangia! Casual Italian restaurant closed for repairs.
According to the restaurant’s owner, Sharon Bassist, specific details about how the fire started are still unknown. Bassist said she is waiting for her insurance company to conclude its investigation.
“We know that it started in the fryer, but we’re not exactly sure what happened,” Bassist said. “The hood-suppression system didn’t do what it was supposed to do — so it didn’t put the fire out.”
She said local businesses have stepped up to volunteer the use of their equipment and facilities to help Mangia! fulfill some of its catering obligations. Others are offering to help once Mangia! reopens by providing kitchen equipment.
Dan Ebert, owner of Two Brothers Deli and manager of the Buffalo Restaurant and Bar, is offering the use of a fryer. It was Ebert who initially called 911 to report the fire at Mangia!.
“I walked out the front of the Buffalo, (and) I could smell something strange,” Ebert said. “… I was walking down the street, and it got stronger and stronger. When I rounded the corner, I could see out of their hood on the roof smoke coming out of it, (and) quite a bit more than should be coming out of it.”
Ebert went into the restaurant and saw two employees trying to deal with what at first looked like an overactive fryer. About 15 seconds later, he said, it caught on fire.
He dialed 911 and at the same time spotted volunteer fire fighter Dennis Johnson walking outside. He flagged over Johnson who went inside to help put out the fire.
“I was walking down the street and Ebert hollered at me to come over — he just yelled, ‘Come on over here,’ “ said Johnson, who has been a volunteer firefighter with the Clear Creek Fire Authority for 10 years. “I thought he wanted me to help move something out of his truck or something.”
Johnson said that when he went in the back door of the restaurant, he saw flames rolling across the ceiling from the cooking area.
“It was a pretty dangerous situation, and I had no equipment of any type to fight the fire,” Johnson said.
He said he started to leave for his own safety when he spotted a fire extinguisher, but it was the wrong type for that kind of fire. About that same time, he said, one of the employees brought out another extinguisher, and together they fought back the flames.
“We hit it low and put it out in the cooking area and directed the attack into the vent system up into the ceiling,” Johnson said. “Then (we) got the heck out of there because it was pretty smoky.”
Johnson said he was glad to have the chance to help, but when the emergency crews showed up, he stood back and let them do their jobs because he wasn’t safely outfitted.
“The skills and training I receive as a volunteer firefighter were what I used to make sure the attack (on the fire) was appropriate and safe,” Johnson said. “(Firefighting) gets in your blood; it (was) an opportunity to put all those skills and training to use.”
The emergency responders closed off Miner Street to traffic while the fire was fully extinguished.
Meanwhile, Josh Dubien from the Main Street Restaurant has let the folks at Mangia! use his kitchen to finish a catering job.
“Everybody has been great,” Bassist said. “The whole community has been really helpful with helping us get back on our feet.”
Bassist said Mangia! will be closed through Thursday while the insurance investigators determine the cause of the fire, while damaged equipment is replaced and so a company can come in to clean up. The restaurant hopes to be back open by this Friday.
“So we’re just kind of waiting to get everything assessed,” Bassist said. “It’s annoying. I’m a workaholic — I don’t know what to do with myself.”
Contact Ian Neligh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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