Happy Dumpling Fire Report From Deputy Fire Miles Schlicte
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