Fire damages downtown restaurant

Dec. 27, 2012 @ 04:38 PM

Fire damaged a popular downtown restaurant Wednesday night, but the sprinkler system kept it from spreading and possibly destroying the building.
The fire at Parker and Otis, at 112 S. Duke St. near Brightleaf Square, activated an automatic alarm at 7:46 p.m., Interim Chief Dan Curia of the Durham Fire Department said.
Firefighters saw smoke through the windows as they arrived. They forced their way into the restaurant, which was closed for the holidays, and saw fire on the first floor, Curia said. He said a sprinkler helped extinguish the flames and that firefighters “completed the extinguishing.”
They searched the rest of the building to be sure no one was there and that the fire hadn’t spread.
Twenty-eight firefighters from five Durham city stations responded, and were at the scene almost three hours.
The fire damaged a bookshelf and its contents in the gift shop section of the restaurant, according to Richard Morgan, who owns the building and nearby Morgan Imports. The floor also sustained fire damage, and there was water damage to the first floor and basement.
Morgan said there was “a lot of smoke” when he arrived about 8 p.m.
“We were lucky,” he said. “If it had gotten to the roof, it would have been a real disaster.”
The building includes four tenants, but the fire was confined to Parker and Otis. The restaurant serves breakfast and lunch, and sells groceries, gourmet foods, cheese, wine, candy, cookies and cookware.
Its website said it planned to close through New Year’s Day. It was unclear how the fire may affect those plans, but Morgan said restoration was set to begin Thursday, once fire officials gave the OK.
Curia said the cause of the fire was being investigated Thursday.