Cigarette blamed for fire at New Hartford restaurant
NEW HARTFORD — The outside wall of the International House of Pancakes on French Road was scorched on Saturday due to an improperly discarded cigarette, according to the New York Mills Fire Department.
Fire Chief Rick Ulinski said the alarm was raised at about 1:20 p.m. for an outside wall on fire at the IHOP. The restaurant was evacuated and employees attempted to use a fire extinguisher, though the chief said it had little effect because the fire was inside the wall, not on the surface.
"What we believe is somebody threw a cigarette into the landscaping mulch," Ulinski said. The mulch then caught on fire, which spread to the siding, which in turn led to flames inside the wall itself. The fire was located near the entrance, the chief said.
"We had to tear the siding off the building to get to where the fire was," Ulinski stated.
Once the wall was opened, the chief said the firefighters knocked down the flames in about five minutes. He said they remained on scene for about 40 minutes cleaning up.
The inside of the restaurant sustained "very minor smoke damage," the chief said, and they reopened for business later that day.
Chief Ulinski said his volunteers have encountered similar fires in the past, and he suggests businesses with decorative mulch should put some stone between the mulch and the building itself to stop this sort of fire.
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