ESSEX (CBS) – A fire that tore through a popular seafood restaurant in Essex, just hours after a busy day of takeout orders, was caused by a gas heater left running overnight, investigators said.
Flames broke out in the kitchen at Essex Seafood on Eastern Avenue around 11 p.m. Sunday. No one was hurt, but it took firefighters about an hour to get the fire under control.
The restaurant was open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. for takeout Sunday. According to their Facebook page, they were busy for Mother’s Day.
“The fire originated over the counter area where there was a 15-20 year old ceiling mounted gas heater. The heater had been left running overnight after the restaurant closed,” the State Fire Marshal’s Office said in a statement Monday.
Damaged is estimated at $250,000. The building inspector said it is “probably a total loss.”
Bruce Conrad lives in the house directly in front of the restaurant. Police woke him up in the middle of the night and told him he needed to get out fast.
“Flames were coming out of the front door and the roof,” Conrad told WBZ-TV. “It’s a double roof so it’s hard to put out. They had to cut several holes in the roof.
Brianna Pappas has lived next door to the restaurant for 16 years and worked there for two summers.
“It was definitely really sad especially since I have a lot of personal memories with my co-workers there. A lot of long nights, sweating hard, working together, but at the end of the day we were doing a good thing for the town, providing the town money and serving these people who have been coming their whole lives so I can’t even imagine how devastating it will be for them as well,” she told WBZ.
“To get woken up at midnight last night knowing it was in flames didn’t seem real. It’s a shame, it’s a shock, beginning of the season too,” said Pappas’ father James.
— Anna Meiler (@AnnaMeiler) May 11, 2020
Howie Lane told reporters he’s owned Essex Seafood for 22 years and he plans to rebuild.