An early morning fire at the Chart House Restaurant on Longboat Key caused an estimated $25,000 worth of damage.
Workers who were picking up grease at the restaurant at 201 Gulf of Mexico Drive called 911 around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday to report a fire at the restaurant.
Longboat Key firefighters saw heavy fire and smoke from the back of the structure, making it appear as if the entire building was on fire. West Manatee Fire District, Cedar Hammock Fire District and the Sarasota County Fire Department responded after firefighters requested additional personnel and equipment.
Approximately 30 firefighters, 11 of whom work for Longboat Key, responded to the scene.
But it was actually just the decking that was ablaze.
Firefighters were able to prevent from spreading to the building, and cut off the decking from the building to ensure the fire was completely extinguished.
“It was able to be contained,” said Longboat Key Fire Rescue Chief Paul Dezzi. “It didn’t go anywhere, and it stayed where it was supposed to,”
Still, temperatures were so hot that sprinklers on the second floor of the restaurant’s patio went off, and the area sustained a small amount of smoke damage.
Firefighters were at the scene for approximately four hours.
No one was injured in the blaze, and all businesses in the building remain open.
The State Fire Marshall is investigating the cause of the fire. The investigation will probably take about a week to complete, according to Dezzi. One cause the state will look into is the possibility that a lit cigarette caused the fire — which tenants of the building say has been a problem, particularly around a wooden walkway near the waterline, which is surrounded by mulch.
“People throw cigarette butts out on the deck all the time, and it’s very dangerous. I’ve extinguished a few myself in the past,” said Debbie Stanick, owner of Exit Art.
“Most importantly, the building is OK, and we’re all still open for business and getting this mess cleaned up,” she said.
Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected]