OLYMPIA - A clothes dryer in the back of King Solomon's Reef caused a fire early Thursday at the downtown restaurant, according to an investigation.
“They believe that there was some sort of a malfunction with it,” Olympia Fire Marshal Rob Bradley said. “That is what we’re going to list as a probable cause.”
No one was injured in the blaze, which occurred seven months after the longtime downtown restaurant reopened following another fire. One of the restaurant’s owners, Justin McIntyre, said he plans to reopen.
The Olympia Fire Department responded at 5:47 a.m. to the blaze at 212 Fourth Ave. E. and arrived three minutes later, according to a news release. Firefighters found flames rising from the office area in the back of the building. The kitchen, bar and dining areas sustained smoke and water damage.
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Damage initially was estimated at $100,000, but Bradley said he suspects the cost will be higher. The fire extensively damaged the roof and its framing, he said.
Nobody was at the restaurant at the time, said Greg Wright, Olympia’s assistant fire chief.
McIntyre, who owns the eatery with his wife and brother, said he closed the restaurant at 4:30 a.m. Thursday. It operates from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. seven days a week.
“Pretty surreal, you know,” he said. “I haven’t slept yet tonight.”
Olympia police closed State and Fourth avenues, the main east and west arteries in downtown Olympia, for the duration of the fire. All streets were open by 8 a.m.
Wright said firefighters battled heavy snow as well as the blaze, which brought multiple fire units. The response included three Olympia engine companies, one ladder company, two medic units and a command unit. Lacey Fire District 3 responded with two engines and a ladder truck, and Thurston County Fire District 8 supplied an engine.
Olympia Public Works brought a sand truck to the scene to melt snow and ice around the restaurant. Intercity Transit provided a bus for shelter.
The Reef reopened in July after sitting empty since November 2008, when a kitchen fire heavily damaged the building. The McIntyre family bought the business and has been leasing space for the restaurant. The building is owned by Ravlesias Artesia LLC of Shelton. Duane Moore is listed as the principal of the building in Thurston County Assessor data.
McIntyre, who labored to clean and reopen the restaurant last year, said he’s staying positive.
He’s “got every ball rolling we can to get open as soon as we possibly can,” he said.
He said the restaurant received lots of support after it reopened.
“We’re viewing it as we’re going to be able to reopen,” he said.
Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869 firstname.lastname@example.org