A grease fire emptied Buffalo Wild Wings in Bel Air a half hour before the Baltimore Ravens game Sunday afternoon, and fire officials are investigating the actions of an employee who hindered firefighting efforts.
The fire was discovered by an employee in the restaurant’s kitchen at approximately 12:23 p.m. Sunday, according to a release from the Office of the State Fire Marshal. A total of 25 firefighters from the Bel Air, Abingdon, and Joppa-Magnolia volunteer fire companies responded and brought the blaze under control in about 10 minutes.
The fire was ruled accidental, and traced to a grease fire which began in the deep fryer. The building did not sustain damage, but damage to the contents of the kitchen was estimated at $50,000. A smoke alarm, fire alarm, and sprinklers were all present, but none activated; fire officials are investigating their failure to activate.
According to the State Fire Marshal’s Office, deputy state fire marshals are investigating the actions of a restaurant employee that “did not listen to firefighter’s commands to remove himself from the premises and interfered with their duties while actively fighting the fire.” The Harford County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene to handle the individual, according to the Harford County Volunteer Fire and EMS Association.
The Harford County Health Department also responded to the scene; the restaurant remained closed Sunday afternoon.
According to the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company’s activity history, fires have broken out at the same restaurant location at least twice before in the last two decades. On April 15, 2005, firefighters responded to a blaze which broke out in the restaurant’s ceiling and roof and caused an estimated $75,000 in damage. On March 16, 1993, amid blizzard conditions, the company responded to a fire which broke out in the kitchen and bar areas of the then-tenant, Hard Times Cafe. A restaurant worker was “badly burned” on their face in the three-alarm blaze, which caused an estimated $150,000 in damage.