PITTSFIELD — Friendly's Restaurant regulars seeking their morning cup of joe were turned away after an early morning grease fire resulted in significant damage and prompted city health officials to order the Dalton Avenue eatery shut down.
Firefighters arrived to find the roof ducts and back door emitting "heavy smoke" and rushed inside, where they quickly extinguished the obstinate flare-up at roughly 7:30 a.m. Friday.
The store manager, Dee Lewis, said employee efforts to subdue the smoke and flames using extinguishers proved unsuccessful. The fire started when grease "beneath and within a large flat-top griddle" ignited, according to Lewis.
Nobody was injured by the fire, but "cleanup costs necessary to restore full operating [conditions] have been estimated at $40,000," according to Pittsfield Fire Department.
"There was only three employees in the building at the time," Deputy Fire Chief Steven Peaslee said. "It needs extensive cleaning. We expect that it will remain closed for two or three days, minimum."
He added, "Most of the damage was incurred as a result of the dust-like material put out by the extinguishers."
Dozens of pounds of food — all the food in the building — had to be thrown out.
Three fire engines responded to the fire, along with a ladder truck and command vehicle.
In December 2013, the restaurant had a similar incident, when a grease fire prompted a fire department response and forced the restaurant to close for the rest of the day. The earlier fire was less serious than Friday's, and did less damage.
Contact Phil Demers at 413-496-6214.