Kitchen fire closes Clallam Bay eatery

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

CLALLAM BAY — The owner of the Breakwater Inn restaurant in Clallam Bay hopes she can reopen in time for some of the tourist season after a fire tore through the restaurant’s kitchen last Sunday, forcing its closure.

Barbara Hamilton, who has owned the landmark seafood restaurant at 15582 state Highway 112 since 1979, said Friday that crews with America’s Finest emergency cleaning services were on their way to continue cleanup efforts begun earlier last week.

Building saved

The building itself was saved, though the kitchen sustained heavy damage, and the stove was destroyed, said Clallam County Fire District No. 5 Chief Patricia Hutson-English.

Hamilton said she expects to be closed for at least a couple of months.

“I hope to be opened in time to salvage some of the [tourist] season,” she said.

The fire appeared to have started in the grill area of the kitchen, Hamilton said, after an employee accidentally left a heating element on after closing for the night April 6.

Hamilton said she received a call from an employee at about 9:30 p.m. that night that a fire had broken out at the restaurant.

Hamilton, who lives about 5 miles away, drove to her business to find volunteer fire crews from Fire District No. 5 already spraying water on the building.

No flames were visible when Hamilton arrived, she said.

“[Firefighters] responded very quickly,” she said.

“Otherwise, I’m sure the building would have been a total loss.”

Hutson-English said two firetrucks, one ambulance and eight firefighters arrived to find smoke but no fire visible from the outside.

Fire behind stove

The fire-suppression system built into the kitchen’s stove had kicked on before firefighters arrived, Hutson-English said, though she added that fire from behind the stove still had to be stamped out.

“We had it out in about 10 minutes,” she said.

Crews stayed on scene until about midnight doing preliminary cleanup and to make sure no hot spots flared up.

Hamilton said she was working with her insurance carrier as of Friday to develop a firm damage estimate.

About 80 percent of the equipment in the kitchen likely sustained some damage, Hamilton said, not to mention the food and other equipment that were contaminated by fire-suppression chemicals.

Hamilton said the roof also will have to be inspected to ensure the fire did not damage the support beams.

“At this point, it doesn’t look like it,” she said.

Hamilton said she’s grateful for the volunteer firefighters and for her neighbors who have been “offering to do anything they can.”

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: April 12. 2014 5:12PM
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