EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) – Fire crews in Columbiana County battled flames at a popular East Palestine restaurant throughout Monday morning.
Smoke was seen coming from the roof of the Original Roadhouse Restaurant on Route 14 at about 1 a.m. Crews arrived to find flames shooting through the top of the building.
At least six fire departments responded to the fire and state Route 14 was shut down near the fire scene. The road was shut down for about five hours but re-opened around 6 a.m.
The state fire marshal came to the scene, but did not immediately determine a cause of the fire.
“When I arrived on scene, fire had already vented the roof and the rear of the structure and taken out the windows on the east side of the structure,” East Palestine Fire Chief Joshua Brown said.
He said the fire started near the kitchen in the back of the building.
The fire started less than four hours after owner James Kachelries closed the restaurant for the night.
“I’ve been in business for 18 years here,” Kachelries said. “Never would have thought anything like this would ever ever happen.”
The fire has left about 20 workers at the restaurant without a job.
The restaurant is fully insured, and Kachelries hopes they will be able to open again soon, but only time will tell.
“Just see how the outcome is and see if we’re going to be able to rebuild here or if I’m going to have to relocate,” Kachelries said. “I just don’t know what is going to happen at this time.”
Icicles covered the restaurant Monday afternoon.
“That is due to the amount of water that we put on the structure. In fact, all our firemen were covered in the same icicles,” Brown said.
He said the bitter cold weather is an extra obstacle for firefighters as they try to avoid getting frostbite.
“We had ambulances on scene where they would go and sit and get warm. Whenever they got warn, they would come relieve the guys that were working and we would swap out,” Brown said.
They rely on their uniforms to stay warm because their turnout gear is made of three layers. But, the gear does not always do the trick.
“You still feel the cold. Absolutely. It is big and bulky. But it is designed to protect you from fire. It is not designed to protect you from the weather,” Brown said.
Brown said it is important during winter to bring along extra items of clothes, including socks and gloves.