Smoky fire strikes Tommy O's

Downtown Vancouver restaurant suffers slight damage

By Stefanie Donahue, Columbian staff writer

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photoA firefighter inspects damage to a restroom after an electrical fire at Tommy O's Thursday afternoon.

(/The Columbian)

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Staff at Tommy O's restaurant received a smoky surprise this afternoon when a circuit breaker box started to smolder.

The Vancouver Fire Department was dispatched at 3:15 p.m. to the downtown restaurant, at 801 Washington St.

Firefighters ended up tearing a hole through the wall to stop the fire, said Battalion Chief Dave Seabrook. No flames were visible, but there was some damage to a wall separating the kitchen and a restroom.

Seabrook encounters the electricity-based fires quite frequently, he said, especially in older buildings like the one housing Tommy O's.

Restaurateur Tommy Owens said the no customers were eating during the time of the fire. Staff evacuated immediately and called 9-1-1, he said.

Owens was not at the restaurant when the fire started, but came as soon as he could.

"I walked into the restaurant and I thought my chef was smoking something," he said.

Owens said he has had no other electrical problems at the restaurant. He's been in that location for about 10 years.

As firefighters worked to investigate the source of smoke, customers wandered in. The bar was still open, serving sushi.

Upon clearance from a health inspector this afternoon, Owens still plans on serving food to the masses this evening.

"My angels were listening again," he said.