Fire closes Hoot Owl

PONDERAY — Hoot Owl Cafe will be closed for a few days while owners repair damages from a Sunday kitchen fire, according to fire officials.

While the cause of the fire is still unknown, quick response from emergency personnel prevented more serious damage to the popular eatery, according to Northside Fire District Chief Brad Mitton.

The flames were centered around the grill and the connected plenum chamber. Since the chamber is designed to ventilate and protect the rest of the building, the rest of the restaurant was unharmed — but it was a close call, Mitton said.

“It really could have gone either way,” Mitton said. “It had the potential to really take off.”

According to Mitton, the fire was first reported around 4:45 p.m. when employees spotted flames shooting from the grill up through the plenum chamber exit installed on the roof.

Ponderay Police Department personnel were the first on scene, and they helped contain and organize the situation. Mitton said that made things much easier for firefighters when they arrived at the restaurant.

“It was a real team effort,” he added.

The fire was simple enough to manage, Mitton continued. In fact, it only took him a few minutes’ work with a fire extinguisher to get the flames under control. After blasting the grill and plenum chamber with the extinguisher, Mitton and his firefighters gave it a shot from a hose to ensure all the flames were snuffed out.

“We used very little water — it was almost all done with a fire extinguisher,” he said.

Mitton said it was unclear to what extent the restaurant was damaged by the fire. A review indicated the fire had damaged the interior of the plenum chamber and was beginning to work through the framework, but it was contained before it could spread to any other parts of the building. Hoot Owl Cafe owners and personnel are working hard to have the restaurant repaired and reopened — hopefully by the weekend, Mitton said.

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