PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A Downtown restaurant was damaged by a grease fire that got out of control Wednesday morning.

According to officials at the scene, the fire broke out at Tavern 245 on Fourth Avenue around 9 a.m.

The fire quickly spread because a critical piece of fire extinguishing equipment inside the restaurant was inoperable.

“We were just coming in for our everyday routine prep work, turn everything on,” Jared Drennen said.

Within seconds, employees found themselves dealing with a lot more than just the daily grind.

“The fire started smoking. I went downstairs to get some potatoes, I come up, my kitchen manager was like, ‘Where’s the fire extinguisher,” Drennen said. “I turn around and see fire in the kitchen. We tried squirting it with a fire extinguisher, it just kept getting bigger. We pulled everything and had to bail out.”

Employees ran out as firefighters ran in.

“Basically, it was a grease fire as the ignition source. The fire got into the roof and along the duct work. In the roof area, we had to do a lot of cutting and digging up there,” Deputy Chief Dan Hennessy said.

The fire was finally put out within an hour of the initial call, but it didn’t take long for investigators find out that this fire could have been avoided.

“The Ansul kitchen fire extinguisher system. It’s purpose is to activate when there’s a fire in the grease pit or cooking area. It’s heat-activated. It was out of service. It did not operate as it was supposed to. At this point, we’re going to cite them on that,” Hennessy said.

The restaurant suffered significant smoke and water damage. A hobby shop below and it’s thousands of dollars in rare collectible comic books were soaked.

For now both the hobby shop and the restaurant remain closed as a result of the damage of the fire and water.


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