Investigators: Restaurant fire was an accident

Jan. 03, 2013 @ 06:37 PM

A fire that damaged a popular downtown restaurant last month started accidentally, a Durham fire investigator said Thursday.

Jody Morton, assistant marshal with the Durham Fire Department, said the Dec. 26 fire at Parker and Otis at 112 S. Duke St., near Brightleaf Square, apparently was caused by a light fixture in a 22-foot-high ceiling.

Meanwhile, the restaurant’s owner, Jennings Brody, said she hopes to reopen the business between Feb. 4 and 6.

Brody said she expected to start ordering inventory again this week, adding that flooring repairs and cleanup need to be done.

“They’re upbeat and ready to pitch in and do whatever they need to do,” she said of her staff.

The fire broke out the night of Dec. 26, but the building’s sprinkler system kept flames from spreading and possibly destroying the building, which houses other tenants.

Firefighters forced their way into the building, which was closed for the holidays, and searched to be sure no one was inside as they completed extinguishing the flames.

Richard Morgan, who owns the building, said the fire damaged a bookshelf and its contents in the gift shop section of the restaurant. The floor sustained damage, and there was water damage to the first floor and basement.

The restaurant serves breakfast and lunch, and sells groceries, gourmet foods, cheese, wine, candy, cookies and cookware.