WOLCOTTVILLE — One firefighter was seriously injured Saturday night fighting a fire at a Wolcottville area restaurant.
The firefighter, whose name was not released, suffered second and third-degree burns to his hands, said Stewart Bender, the Topeka Fire Department fire chief. He was transported to an Indianapolis hospital for treatment.
Bender said the two firefighters were working their way through the attic space of the Beauty and the Bull restaurant on Hackenburg Lake searching for the source of the fire when the fire flashed over, cutting off their escape. The men then called for help.
Bender said that mayday is every fire chief’s worse nightmare.
“I radioed up to them and told them to start hitting on the ceiling,” he said. Firefighters below in the restaurant were able to pinpoint were the men were by the sound of them pounding on the ceiling, and cut a hole in the ceiling and to rescue them.
Bender said the second firefighter in the attic at the same time suffered dehydration from his exposure to intense heat. He said that firefighter has since recovered.
Bender said the restaurant’s owner told him the building was experiencing electrical problems and had been shut down for the evening. Bender said an electrician had been called in hopes of finding and repairing the problem before the fire broke out.
Topeka and Johnson Township fire departments were paged out to the fire at 7:27 p.m. The restaurant sits on the edge of each department’s fire protection area. Bender said light smoke was escaping from the building’s attic when fire crews first arrived.
Rome City firefighters were quickly called in to assist fighting the fire. Bender estimates as many as 45 firefighters were on the scene at one time working to stop the fire. His department finally cleared the scene at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday.
Bender could not estimate how much damage was done to the building but did say all the fire damage was confined to the building’s attic. He did say the restaurant’s dining area and kitchen likely suffered some water damage.
“The guys did a good job getting the fire stopped,” Bender said.
A fire investigator from the State Fire Marshal’s office arrived on the scene Saturday night to start his investigation. A report on his finding is expected to be released in a couple of weeks.