Happy Dumpling Fire Report From Deputy Fire Miles Schlicte

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A man inside of the just opened Happy Dumpling restaurant noticed a haze of smoke accumulating inside the restaurant and called the fire department. After calling the FD the man saw flames showing along the peak of the roof. At this point the man ran to the stairs of the apartment on the right side of the building and alerted the residents that the building was on fire. A young woman grabbed her infant from the crib and exited the building unharmed. At the same time the owner of the restaurant directed her employee to run up the stairs to the apartment on the left side of the building to alert the single female who lived there. That resident was not home at the time.
The fire department arrived on scene to heavy smoke and fire showing at the front of the building along the roof soffit.  The first officer on scene announced a working fire. HQ Engine 1 and Rescue 1 stretched two hose lines into the building to attack the fire from the inside and drive it back out through the soffit. The crews were greatly delayed in getting to the seat of the fire by obstructions within the building and limited access to the section of the roof on fire.  Due to this delay and rapidly spreading fire a second alarm was struck by the IC who had taken command upon arrival shortly after the HQ crews. While these hose lines were being stretched the L1 crew raised the ladder to the roof and cut a large hole in the roof above the visible flames to allow heat and fire to escape to the outside and prevent fire from spreading under the roof to the rest of the building.
Once the hose lines were in place inside the building and the vent hole in place in the roof the order was given to break out the rest of the third floor windows for additional ventilation. This allowed the smoke inside to lift and the crews were able to drive the flames back to the outside of the building while preventing further spread under the roof. This additional oxygen initially fed and expanded the visible fire which was seen rolling over the ceilings in the third floor windows until the crews inside could control it and drive the flames out the windows and the roof vent hole. 
Gloucester crews were greatly assisted at the scene by Rockport and Essex Engines and the Manchester ladder truck. Downtown Gloucester was protected by Beverly and Hamilton Engines and an Ipswich Ladder truck. These out of town companies responded on several other calls while the fire was being fought.
Local inspectors from the building, electrical, and health department were called to the scene along with the State Fire Marshalls office. Perishable foods from the restaurant were removed from the restaurant and taken to the convenience store next door where the owner provided refrigerator space.
A joint investigation between the GFD, GPD, the building and electrical inspectors along with the State Fire Marshalls office determined that the fire started in the soffit on the exterior of the building. The material that caught fire initially before spreading to the building is believed to have been nesting material from either birds or squirrels. It is unknown what the source of the ignition was. Further investigation is ongoing.
Electricity to the building was cut and the building secured by a board up company prior to the FD clearing the scene and turning the building over to its owners.
All four residents of the building are staying with family.
One firefighter suffered a twisted knee inside the building but remained on duty for the rest of the night.
No other injuries were reported.
While damage is estimated to be between 25 and 50, 000 dollars, the value of the property saved is estimated to be between 350 and 400,000 dollars. Prompt notification, a short response time and very aggressive firefighting prevented this fire from being much worse.
Deputy Schlichte-Incident Commander 

11 comments

  • So sad. I feel so sorry for the new restaurant owners–they were so excited about their new business.

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    • Miles Schlichte

      If not for the actions of Ms. Lin and her significant other who called the FD immediatly and then thought of the people in the apartments above their restaurant even while their new business was filling with smoke, this could have easily been worse. I would like to suggest that people watch for the reopening of the Happy Dumpling and as soon as they are open order a meal there. It’s an easy way to say thanks for their efforts while helping a new business get going.

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  • Great job GFD,

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  • I hope the Happy Dumplings can get back on their feet as fast as possible. The fire report was very interesting and brought me back to the day our house was inspected. He said that birds were living in the roof soffits and that I should get them out and covered ASAP. I asked why and he said the birds could pick up a burning cigarette butt as nesting material. Indeed, when I removed the nesting material there was a cigarette butt snuggled into the dry nest!

    So if you have cute birds living in your attic, get rid of them! And if you smoke, don’t toss your cigarette butt on the sidewalk where Donna has to pick it up on Saturday morning. Better yet, quit.

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    • Thanks for sharing. That’s very interesting and not something I would ever have considered. I was wondering what could ignite nesting material in a rooftop other than lightning and there you have it.

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  • Great job, GFD and GPD!! We’ll all look forward to the next grand opening!

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  • Bravo to the awesome people from Happy Dumplings and the GFD, GPD and the other fire departments who helped. I am so relieved that no one was hurt, though saddened for the people who live there as well as the Happy Dumplings business. I was lucky enough to try them last Saturday night, brought 2 big bags of take-out for a group dinner, everything was delicious and we can’t wait to try them again, I’ll be back as soon as they re-open.

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  • I appreciate reading this report in its entirety. The Gloucester Times’ Police/Fire entries are so abbreviated that they all read alike. This long form text shows the full extent of the bravery, quick-thinking, and strength of everyone involved…Happy Dumpling owners, customers, and firefighters alike. Thank you for posting it.

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  • Any ballpark estimates on how long it will take them to reopen, Joey?

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  • We are re-open today .Jun 22

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