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St. Andrews Fla--Fire Damages Popular Seafood Restaurant

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  • St. Andrews Fla--Fire Damages Popular Seafood Restaurant


    EARLY MORNING FIRE: Hunt’s Oyster Bar may take months to reopen.

    Flames ravage popular eatery

    By David Angier News Herald Writer 747-5077 / [email protected]

    A small ray of hope for a quick reopening pierced a thick veil of smoke over Hunt’s Oyster Bar Tuesday in St. Andrews.

    Just two hours after firefighters doused a blaze that ravaged the Beck Avenue landmark’s kitchen, Randy Hunt, friends and family were inside clearing the debris.

    "It’s pretty sad in there," Hunt said.

    As a sign of things to come, however, two people had taken a break from the cleanup to sit at the corner of the bar nearest the door and have a Budweiser.

    Behind them, the walls were blackened with soot and the smell of charred wood hung in the air.

    Hunt said it would take two months at the most to refurbish the kitchen and reopen the popular seafood restaurant.

    Theodore Van Wagner said he was finishing up a carpet project when he smelled smoke coming from the kitchen about 7:45 a.m. He was the only person inside the restaurant, and when he went to investigate he found the kitchen already in flames.

    "The smoke was too bad," Van Wagner said. "I couldn’t do anything."
    Van Wagner said he held his breath long enough to bolt out the front door. He said he called 911, but neighbors already had seen smoke coming from a vent and had called for help.

    Firefighters arrived at the scene two minutes after being dispatched and had the fire under control in about 40 minutes. No one was injured working the fire. Panama City Fire Lt. Roman Olek said thick black smoke was billowing from the front and back when his crew arrived on scene. Van Wagner told them where he’d seen the fire, Olek said, and they made their way to the back door.

    Olek and two firefighters entered the kitchen and found it too hot to remain there. "There was fire all around the range and the walls," Olek said. "It’d already got up to the attic." Olek said they put a fan in the kitchen to drive out some of the heat, then went in again. The fire broke through the roof over the kitchen, but didn’t spread.

    State Fire Marshal Lt. Les Nelson said an electrical problem in the kitchen started the blaze. It was ruled an accidental fire.

    J.W. Hunt opened his restaurant in 1966 at a small location in St. Andrews. Three years ago it moved a block north to 1150 Beck Ave.

    Twenty-eight minutes after firefighters suppressed the fire at Hunt’s, they were on their way a block north to Copa Cabana Hotel at 1212 Beck Ave. Smoke was seen coming from the rear of the hotel and firefighters found a laundry dryer on fire. The blaze was quickly extinguished.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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