Kitchen fire closes restaurant

CALCUTTA – A kitchen fire closed the Wendy’s restaurant on state Route 170 in Calcutta early Friday evening. According to Calcutta Volunteer Fire Chief Scott Smith, the blaze was confined to one of the restaurant’s fryers, which was destroyed.

“That was the only thing that physically burned,” Smith said. “Everything else is going to be damage from smoke and dry chemical [extinguishers].”

Smith commended restaurant management for having the establishment quickly evacuated of employees and customers. “The manager did an excellent job of making sure the building was cleaned out when we got here,” he said.

The only reported injuries were to store manager Darren Krlich, who had attempted to extinguish the fire and was taken to East Liverpool City Hospital for smoke inhalation.

The only person inside the Wendy’s when Calcutta firefighters arrived was Liverpool Township firefighter Carl Pearson, who says he heard the call come over his radio while he was shopping at the nearby Kmart. “I went over, and smoke was barreling out of it,” he said. After checking to make sure no one was inside, Pearson went at the blaze with a fire extinguisher.

“I tried to contain it until they got there,” he said.

Smith says they received the call at 5:25 p.m. and were there within minutes. “The first engine in, we got in and got it out,” he said. They were joined by Glenmoor and Liverpool Township firefighters from the Dixonville and LaCroft stations, who assisted with ventilating the great amount of smoke in the building.

St. Clair Township Police, aided by a unit from Calcutta Towing, provided traffic control on state Route 170, where rush-hour traffic was squeezed to one southbound lane while firefighters were on the scene. Lifeteam EMS, Tri-County Ambulance and North Star Critical Care were also present on standby.

Smith says the blaze was most likely due a grease fire, which manager Monika Williams confirmed, though she was unable to say what may have touched it off.

Williams also says customers should expect the store to be closed for a few days for repairs.