By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
ST. JOSEPH — It took firefighters about 20 minutes to put out a fire that started at the Chicken Coop restaurant in St. Joseph Township.
Several fire trucks and police cars blocked traffic near the restaurant Tuesday night at 2062 Washington Ave. as smoke continued to billow after firefighters had hosed down the business.
St. Joseph Township Fire Chief Gary Maynard said it appears the fire started after a vent blower short circuited. However, authorities won’t know for sure until later in the week.
“The owner of the business indicated to us that he could smell something burning and his exhaust fans quit,” Maynard said. “At that time, he shut all of his fry vats down, but he could still smell something burning.”
The lone employee working in the building left uninjured.
Maynard could not estimate how much damage the building took, but said it was mostly just smoke damage.
“It’s not that bad, but there won’t be any chicken made for a while,” Maynard said.
Firefighters got the call around 6:30 p.m. when they were already out on another call for a structure fire.
Maynard said they used a saw in the attic of the restaurant to cut a hole in the ceiling to make sure there wasn’t any fire remaining. St. Joseph Township police and Medic 1 were also on scene for assistance.
Various people from Burger King and Chilli’s across the street made their way out to watch as firefighters put out the fire at the Chicken Coop.
Standing outside next door to the neighboring building was Dan Sandmann, an employee of Sandmann Barber Shop.
The Sandmann family owns a few of the buildings along Washington Avenue that house businesses, including the Chicken Coop.
Sandmann said his family leases the building to the owner of the Chicken Coop and was curious about what was taking place next to his workplace.
“A buddy of mine works across the street at Chili’s as a manager,” Sandmann said. “He was the one who texted me and told me the Chicken Coop was on fire. I walked out and saw this.”
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Jan. 11, 2017)