CHEEKTOWAGA – Firefighters from across Cheektowaga responded to the Walden Galleria Saturday morning after a fire broke out inside the kitchen of Jack Astor’s Bar and Grill.
The fire broke out a few minutes before 8:30 am near a fryer according to Forks Fire Department Chief Tom Brennan.
He observed black smoke emanated from the restaurant’s exhaust hood outside when he first arrived.
“When I went inside, security had pretty much knocked it down using a dry chemical extinguisher, and the Ansul [Fire Suppression] System finally kicked on,” said Mr. Brennan.
The restaurant was closed at the time of the fire, and it only had a manager, a few cooks, and cleaner inside at the time.
“There were between four and five employees on location when we arrived,” added Mr. Brennan. “They were prepping food and working in the kitchen in that fryer area, and something came in contact with the fryers.”
Although the fire was extinguished, residual smoke filled the area and firefighters had to use high-powered exhaust fans to eject the smoke from the restaurant. Working a fire scene at the mall creates unique challenges for firefighters.
“There are a lot of obstacles that go on when you go to a commercial property let alone a mall setting itself. Water supply is number one. Anytime we get a structure fire you want to establish a water supply, and thankfully for this, we didn’t have to do it but that would have been another obstacle we would have had to endure,” said Mr. Brennan.
Another limiting factor is the weight limit imposed on the parking ramp outside the restaurant’s entrance.
“We try to keep [the weight] to a minimum, especially with the bigger trucks. The bigger trucks weight 60-70,000 pounds so that could possibly create a collapse hazard on the ramp,” added Mr. Brennan.
The restaurant will be closed until a thorough cleaning is performed and the Erie County Health Department reinspects the facility. A restaurant employee tells Cheektowaga Chronicle by phone Saturday morning that they’ll be closed for the weekend. They expect to reopen on Monday.
The rest of the mall was not impacted by the fire and is open.