I'll preface this by saying I hope these guys are ok, I grew up in this town. We don't know the specifics, but it would be most likely that water boiled in the pump from sitting idle.
08/24/06 - Posted from the Daily Record newsroom
VIDYA PADMANABHAN / DAILY RECORD
Flames come out of the roof of The Brick Oven in Florham Park on Wednesday after a fire that started in the restaurant's namesake brick oven grew out of control.
Four firefighters hurt battling blaze in Florham Park
Restaurant damaged by brick oven fire
BY VIDYA PADMANABHAN
FLORHAM PARK -- Four firefighters were injured battling a lunch-hour fire at The Brick Oven restaurant on Wednesday. The flames, which began in the restaurant's namesake oven, burned holes through the roof and forced lunchtime patrons to flee.
Firefighters from six towns spent 90 minutes putting out the blaze, which began in the oven's chimney before spreading to the roof. A passerby saw the smoke and alerted the employees, who called 911 at 12:24 p.m., Florham Park Police Chief Kim Chapman said.
Nine fire engines surrounded the restaurant, formerly known as Fantastico, located at 162 Columbia Turnpike. Firefighters sprayed water on the roof, which smoldered gently until 1.30 p.m. when flames erupted through the roof. The fire burned steadily for about 15 minutes while firefighters doused the flames with hoses from the ground and from aerial ladders.
The fire was extinguished a little after 2 p.m., although firefighters continued to hose down large sections of the roof and walls.
Four Florham Park firefighters sustained injuries -- three of them suffered steam burns while uncoupling a hose in which the water had become superheated. All three were taken to St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston for treatment.
Firefighter Brian Tappin was in critical but stable condition Wednesday evening at St. Barnabas Hospital, Robin Lally, a hospital spokeswoman said. Two other injured firefighters were treated and released from the hospital, Lally said.
A fourth firefighter suffered a cut to the head and was treated at the scene.
Columbia Turnpike was cordoned off for a two-block stretch in front of the restaurant. Restaurant workers, patrons and curious onlookers stood behind the yellow police tape, watching the blaze.
Jennifer Thul, 28, had been having lunch with Irene Capone, a friend and colleague at the Florham Park Novartis office, to celebrate her birthday.
"We smelled a little bit of the smoke," Thul said. "Then the cops came in and said we had to leave."
"We were lucky we got to finish our lunch," Capone said.
Thul and Capone, as well as few other diners, had not picked up their cars from the restaurant's parking lot when they evacuated, and were stuck without a ride. A few other patrons had managed to drive their cars out before the police tape was put up.
Dede McMenamy of Florham Park had invited a friend for lunch at the restaurant.
"Flames started coming out of the brick oven," she said. "And it was not the nice woodsy smell anymore."
Suddenly the lights went off, and they were told to evacuate, she said.
She and her friend had lunch at a different restaurant and had then walked back, hoping to have dessert at The Brick Oven, but found the place cordoned off.
"I don't think we're going to have dessert here," she said, "unless it's toasted marshmallows."
Florham Park Councilwoman Judy Beecher stopped by to survey the damage.
"It was home to our Rotary (Club)," she said. "They met here every Friday morning. Now they're going to have to find a new home."
Beecher thanked the Madison Fire Department and First Aid Squad, which came out to support the Florham Park emergency workers. Firefighters from Morristown, Morris Township, East Hanover, Cedar Knolls and Whippany also were on the scene.
The cause of the chimney fire remains unclear, but investigators have concluded it was an accident, Florham Park Detective Lt. Robert Treiber said.
The roof of the restaurant sustained fire damage, and the rest of the building suffered water damage, Treiber said. The restaurant would likely remain closed for an extended period, he said.
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