Freezing cold temps cause challenges at Applebee’s fire

January 3, 2014

applebees_fire_010314 By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief. 

AMBER TWP. — The fire that destroyed the Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar on U.S. 10-31 started somewhere in the kitchen. Pere Marquette Township Fire Chief Larry Gaylord said that is about all he knows at this time about the origin of the early morning fire that destroyed the popular eating establishment.

applebees_fire_010314PM and Ludington fire departments were the first units called to the scene, shortly after 4 a.m. A customer at the Meijer gas station across the street apparently was the first to notice the heavy black smoke coming from the building. Scottville Fire Dept. was called to assist and later in the morning Hamlin Township firefighters relieved several of the firefighters.

Manager Matt Zwiegle said the restaurant closed at midnight.

At 1:30 p.m. Gaylord was heading back out to the scene where he was going to meet with company officials. “I haven’t had a chance to get into the building yet,” Gaylord said. “As of right now it looks like the fire originated from the kitchen.” Gaylord said a fire marshal from Michigan State Police is expected to investigate the scene on Monday.

Fighting the fire in 7-degree temperatures created many issues for the firefighters. PM’s aerial truck initially had a frozen valve. Scottville Fire Chief Dale Larr said firefighters had to use mallets to knock ice out of the valves.

“Trucks from Ludington, PM and Scottville are still thawing out,” Larr said early this afternoon. “The cold definitely caused many issues.” Icy conditions also made maneuvering around the fire scene dangerous.

Water pressure was also an issue. Hydrants are located several hundred feet away from the scene of the building, closer to the larger Home Depot and movie theater buildings, rather than along the highway. Fire trucks from Scottville were used to relay the pressure. The departments used over 100,000 gallons of water on the fire.

Gaylord said he was pleased with the efforts of all the departments and others who assisted, such as the American Red Cross, Life EMS ambulance and Mason County Sheriff’s Office.

Over 50 people worked at the restaurant. Chief Gaylord said part of the meeting with company officials will be to discuss cleaning up and rebuilding the site. We are attempting to contact company representatives for comment.


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