Cooking fire temporarily closes Tea Garden restaurant

  • The Athol Fire Department is shown on scene at the Tea Garden on Main Street in Athol following a cooking fire Thursday. Deputy Fire Chief Jeffrey Parker (in blue) can be seen taking photos of the damaged exhaust hood on the right, on top of the building. The left unit was not involved. Athol Daily News/Deborrah Porter

  • Closeup of the damaged exhaust hood extending from the kitchen of the Tea Garden restaurant on Main Street in Athol on Thursday. Athol Daily News/Deborrah Porter

  • Traffic was quickly blocked off on Main Street in Athol Thursday afternoon by the Athol Fire Department responding to a report of a fire at the Tea Garden restaurant. —Athol Daily News/Deborrah Porter

  • The Athol Fire Department skillfully maneuvered their fire apparatus into the small Tea Garden restaurant parking lot Thursday afternoon in response to a fire. Athol Daily News/Deborrah Porter

  • The Athol Fire Department quickly responded to the scene of a fire at the Tea Garden on Main Street Thursday.   —Athol Daily News/Deborrah Porter

  • A member of the Athol Fire Department is shown assisting with the stabilization of the fire apparatus on scene at the Tea Garden on Main Street in Athol in response to a report of a fire.   —Athol Daily News/Deborrah Porter

Editor, Daily News
Published: 6/13/2019 9:45:33 PM
Modified: 6/13/2019 9:45:23 PM

ATHOL — An apparent cooking fire has temporarily shut down the Tea Garden restaurant. Early Thursday afternoon, 15 firefighters from three towns responded to a report of fire in the restaurant located at 631 Main St., across from the L.S. Starrett company.

According to Deputy Fire Chief Jeffrey Parker, the fire was located inside the exhaust hood system in the kitchen. “The Ansul system (fire suppression system) in the hood extinguished the fire,” he said. Damage was contained to the inside of the hood and vent, but the kitchen and restaurant area sustained minor smoke damage.

Athol Building Inspector Bob Legare, who was called to the scene to inspect the interior said, “There was no structural damage.” He confirmed that the floor above is used for storage, and was not damaged.

Health Agent Deborah Vondal, also called to the scene, said the health department was required to close the business according to state code, due to the smoke damage and repair of the ansul system.

“The ansul system must be cleaned and repaired,” said Vondal, “It is a very specific part of our health code - it is defined as an imminent health hazard. Particulate matter is very hard to see, and it must be thoroughly cleaned.”

She said the exhaust hoods, ansul system, fans and the entire inside of the restaurant must be cleaned by a commercial cleaner. “The restaurant cannot reopen until it is all cleaned,” she said, and inspected by the fire, building and board of health departments. The state will also inspect the ansul system before reopening.

No one was injured in the fire or on any of the response teams.

Traffic was blocked off and detours put in place on and around Main Street and motorists were rerouted for roughly an hour. Drivers were inconvenienced as traffic snarled in certain locations due to the closure of the Exchange Street Bridge.

The exact cause of the fire will be determined by the State Fire Marshal.

Fire apparatus and firefighters responded from the Athol, Orange and Phillipston fire departments. The Royalston Fire Department covered the uptown fire station.

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