Owner credits neighboring business, police and fire departments with limiting fire damage
OROVILLE – A fire in the early morning hours last Sunday at Hometown Pizza and Pasta in Oroville was limited to mostly smoke damage because of the quick reporting by the owner of the recently opened Pastime Bar and Grill.
“Vicki (Henzie) from next door told a police officer that she saw smoke coming from the roof. Officer Patterson called the fire department and broke the front door glass with his flashlight. He came in and used a fire extinguisher to put it out,” said John Desjardins, who owns the popular restaurant with his wife Becky.
Desjardins said he and his wife were awakened with a call sometime after 1 a.m. on Sunday morning.
“She’s still crying but it could have been a lot worse, we plan to get the whole crew in here tomorrow and open back up on Wednesday,” said Desjardins.
He was surveying the damage on Monday morning while a crew from Omak Glass was working on replacing the glass in the front door and Vinnie DeMartino from Vinnie’s Carpet Cleaning was steam cleaning the carpets. The smell of smoke could still be distinguished, but was not overpowering as Desjardins pointed to a bakers rack where he had stacked a pile of dishrags on the top rack next to a box of pasta to dry after their second run through the washing machine.
“They were clean, but they still had some grease in them. They obviously caught fire and the fire spread to some plastic pitchers we had on the shelf below. The fire melted the pitchers and scorched a cooler that is behind the baker’s rack, but otherwise was limited to mostly smoke damage.
“Vicki saw smoke coming through the ceiling vent. If the Pastime hadn’t opened this week… say it opened a week from now, we probably wouldn’t have a restaurant to open up again on Wednesday,” said Desjardins.
“We were lucky.”
On the ceiling pointed towards the kitchen and the baker’s rack Desjardins has a video camera. On top of the cooler that was scorched facing toward the front of the restaurant is a monitor. He said he believed the fire would have been caught on that camera.
While Fire Chief Rod Noel, DeMartino and Father David Kuttner from the Oroville Catholic Church looked on, Desjardins played back what happened in the early morning hours.
The area around the rags fills with dark smoke and soon the pile of rags seems to suddenly burst into flames. These continue to get higher as the video is played and then you can see more flame from the area where the plastic pitchers are stored. Eventually a flashlight can be seen in the kitchen and the fire goes out as it is hit with a dry powder extinguisher. Not long afterwards the flames start back up and are extinguished a second time. Once again they reignite and finally a third blast from an extinguisher knocks them out for good.
The Oroville Fire Department made sure that the fire was completely out and the truck was back in the station by 1:40 a.m., according to Chief Noel.
On her Facebook page Becky Desjardins said the last thing you want to hear is someone pounding on your door telling your restaurant is on fire.
“The words thank you do not seem enough for everyone that saved our restaurant. Chris Patterson, Oroville Fire Department, Brant and Vicki at the Pastime, Brian, Winter who patched Chris up, Scott and Michael Eisen who boarded our door up, and Colleen and Troy Brown who helped us out today with the door and a shoulder to cry on,” she writes. “There are many blessings of living in a small town but you truly realize them when something like this happens. Thanks to everyone with offers of help, John and I are truly grateful.”