Investigators now say a fire at the Knapp House Restaurant Wednesday started in the attic above the bar area.
But, the Menomonie Fire Department says the cause of the fire has not been determined. Firefighters do not believe it is arson or anything suspicious. Damage is estimated at half a million dollars.
No one was hurt in that fire.
STORY FROM 7/14/10
A restaurant with decades of history in the area is destroyed after a fire early this morning. Investigators spent most of the Wednesday looking into what caused the fire at the Knapp House Restaurant. They have yet to release what caused the fire or where it started. Menomonie Fire Chief Jack Baus says the stormy weather suspended the investigation until Thursday.
Heart-wrenching is how owner Rick Bloomfield describes watching the smoldering pieces of his Knapp House Restaurant.
“I'm thankful I'm alive,” he said. “I was sleeping and I wouldn't have known.”
Firefighters say flames tore through the entire building just before 4:30 Wednesday morning.
He says a couple of quick-thinking construction workers who saw smoke coming from the building went in an unlocked door to his apartment and woke him up.
“We went through the kitchen into the bar area and it was really smoky,” he said. “We grabbed a fire extinguisher and tried to put out the little flames that we saw, and we realized it was up in the ceiling so we got out of the building."
Fire crews responded, but much of the ceiling had already collapsed when they got there.
“We tried to do what we could inside, but the fire was just too extensive at that time,” said Menomonie Fire Chief Jack Baus.
Bloomfield says he bought the restaurant after it had been closed for 13 years and re-built under a previous owner.
“When I first moved to the community in 76', it was really the place to go,” said Dale Dahlke of Knapp. “I think that was the hope…that it would restore to that kind of fame."
Bloomfield is just thinking about three years of his effort that literally went up in smoke.
“I put all this work into the building, and then trying to get the business together and then have to start all over again, it's heart-wrenching," he said.
Bloomfield says he's insured, but only for about half of the $1,300,000 he says the Knapp House was worth.
Nobody was hurt in the fire.
Crews from 12 departments helped to put out the flames.
The Menomonie Fire Chief says one person escaped after a fire started at a restaurant early this morning.
The chief says crews got a call at around 4:30 this morning about a fire at the Knapp House Restaurant off of Highway 12. He says when crews got there, the fire was going strongly, with 20 foot flames. He says one person was inside, but the department got that person out safely. He says that person did not have any injuries.
The chief says the department isn't sure on a cause yet, but a fire investigator is on scene.
We have a crew on scene and will bring you more information on weau.com and tonight on WEAU 13 News at 5 and 6.