From Northumberland Today

Fire destroys Port Hope restaurant

By Pete Fisher

Monday, December 29, 2003 - 09:00

Local News - Port Hope firefighters fought a hard battle, but were unable to save Arby’s restaurant from fire on Friday night.

Emergency crews were dispatched at 6:08 p.m. Friday and upon arrival encountered heavy smoke — and then flames.

“The restaurant was actually open and serving customers at the time,” said Port Hope Police Const. John Oosterhof, one of the first to arrive at the scene.

“Two customers were seated at the front of the restaurant and could hear the crackling of the fire overhead in the ceiling itself,” he said. They notified employees who called 911 and evacuated the building.

Fire Chief Jim Boughen said he believes the fire had gone undetected for a period of time and by the time firefighters were called, the fire was raging through the ceiling.

He and another firefighter entered the building by the dining area next to the kitchen.

“Above the dropped ceiling everything ... was fire from one end to the other,” Chief Boughen said.

Firefighters stayed outside the restaurant, considering it too dangerous to go inside in case the ceiling collapsed.

Barricades were set up to keep the public back and police officers were sent to a nearby nursing home, to ask that windows be kept closed because of the drifting smoke.

Workers from Arby’s could only watch as flames eventually destroyed the building.

At least one nearby gas station was also closed for a short period because of the flames.

Chief Boughen said he believes the fire started above the ceiling area near the front, and the cause is believed to be electrical.

Insurance adjustors have yet to attend the scene, but Arby’s officials said damage to the building and contents could reach $500,000.