Fire Destroys Popular Wash. Eatery

July 19--The popular Olympia Oyster House was destroyed by fire early this morning, Olympia Fire Chief Greg Wright reported.

At about 12:20 Friday morning, Olympia firefighters responded to reports of smoke coming out the front doors of the restaurant in the 300 block of 4th Avenue West. Initial crews reported smoke throughout the building and found fire near the kitchen. They fought the fire from inside the building, but found heavy fire under the roof when they opened it up.

More firefighters and trucks were called, but the conditions continued to get worse and firefighters pulled out of the building at about 12:45 a.m., Wright said in a press release. The fire was brought under control by 2:35 a.m., but by that time the roof had collapsed and only the exterior walls were left standing.

The Olympia Building Official determined the remaining walls were unsafe and large portions were knocked down to make the scene safe.

One firefighter suffered a minor burn on the hand and was treated at the scene. There were no workers or patrons in the building, and the owner had left at about 10:30 p.m. Thursday.

Fire units remained on scene to monitor the debris removal and handle any hot spots. Fire investigators will focus on the kitchen area once access is gained. The building and its contents are a total loss.

Detour routes around the fire area have been set up, it is anticipated that all lanes will be open later today. Lakefair, Olympia's downtown summer event should not be impacted.

The Olympia Oyster House has been operated by the current owners for the last 17 years. The location has housed a restaurant since the 1940s and was an oyster shucking facility before becoming a restaurant. The restaurant employed about 40 to 45 people. The owners were on the scene for most of the fire after being called at their homes. They report that the restaurant may be the oldest seafood restaurant in the state and they plan on rebuilding.

Copyright 2013 - The Daily World, Aberdeen, Wash.

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