A gas heater sparked a two-alarm fire that damaged a well-known seafood restaurant in Essex Sunday night after the business spent the weekend filling takeout orders for Mother’s Day, officials said.
Crews were called to Essex Seafood at 143 Eastern Ave. just before 11 p.m., Essex Fire Chief Daniel Doucette said.
A fire had broken out on the ceiling over the kitchen’s counter area, where a 15- to 20-year-old gas heater was mounted and had been left running overnight, the state fire marshal’s office said in a statement Monday.
Owner Howie Lane told reporters outside the restaurant Monday morning that watching his business burn was devastating.
“At one point I broke down and I’m a pretty strong guy,” Lane said. “We got 22, 23 years in this, our heart and soul, and look it’s just burning.”
Video of the scene shared on Twitter showed flames shooting from the restaurant’s roof as firefighters from Essex, Gloucester, Manchester, Hamilton, Ipswich, and Wenham battled the blaze.
“We had difficulty getting to the fire in the roof line and ceilings since it looked like there had been multiple additions added onto the building as the business grew over the years,” Doucette said.
A home next to the restaurant had to be evacuated during the fire, but was not damaged by the flames, Doucette said.
The fire was knocked down about an hour after it was reported and crews left the scene by 2 a.m., Doucette said.
The restaurant was unoccupied at the time of the fire, Doucette said. No one was injured.
Doucette estimated that the kitchen equipment and building sustained about $250,000 in damage.
“They’re not going to be opening up for a while,” he said.
Doucette said he and his wife had just ordered lobster rolls from Essex Seafood Saturday night. On Sunday, the restaurant was busy filling Mother’s Day orders from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., according to a post on its Facebook page.
Lane said Sunday was the busiest Mother’s Day the restaurant has ever had.
“Then it ended up being our worst Mother’s Day,” he told reporters.
Nichole Parsons wrote on Facebook that employees had done “a great job with a packed crowd” when she went to pick up her takeout order there Sunday.
“So incredibly sad to hear this, my heart goes out to you guys! You all work so hard and the food and the service is always so good,” Parsons wrote. “Thinking of you all and I’m so happy no one was hurt.”
While the start of the summer season has abruptly come to a close for Essex Seafood, Lane told reporters that he plans to rebuild and reopen.
“I’m looking forward to getting my hands dirty and tearing it down and getting it back up,” he said.
Caroline Enos can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @CarolineEnos.
Source: Thanks https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/05/11/metro/fire-tears-through-essex-seafood-after-restaurant-completes-mothers-day-orders/