■ By Mary Ann Morris / Editor
A fire at the Hemet Applebee’s restaurant at the corner of Florida Avenue and Kirby Street was quickly extinguished by members of the Hemet Fire Department. The Jan. 30 fire began late afternoon in the walls near the restaurant’s attic. Firefighters were able to douse the blaze before it spread to other parts of the building.
“At 3:54 p.m., we received a report of smoke conditions within Applebee’s at 2515 W. Florida Ave.,” said Hemet Fire Department Chief Scott Brown. “Workers and patrons were evacuated immediately; they did really good work at getting everyone out of the structure.”
First responders arrived within 5 minutes, according to Applebee’s Manager Mansour Meshi. “I noticed minor smoke in the kitchen, and we were able to get everyone out with no injuries. We’re very grateful that nobody got hurt.”
Brown believes the cause of the fire was electrical in nature, but it is under investigation.
“We will be looking at cause and origin. Right now my goal is to work with the management at Applebee’s to get this business back in business as soon as possible,” said Brown. “We saw good heavy charring, v-patterns, which indicate electrical, but it’s too preliminary to tell. Our number one focus is to ensure all the fire is out and not have a rekindle.”
Brown said the fire was running the wall, and the only way to stop it is to cut the wall and blast with water.
“We have thermal imaging cameras, a high-tech piece of equipment, that can look at the wall to determine where the heat signatures are at, so we can make a surgical attack,” said Brown. “It’s one of the most important things we do.
“You may notice Truck 1, with its ladder extended. Whenever we have one ladder up, we have another ladder truck on the back side of the building to ensure that our firefighters have egress. It’s a safety issue…very, very important,” he pointed out.
Brown also noted that his firefighters are equipped with the “newest, state-of-the-art Motorola radios. We are one of the first departments to purchase these radios, and we are working with the county to get them up and running,” said Brown. “We’d like to thank the community for passing Measure U so we can be most effective.”
“Applebee’s is a contributor to our local economy in our city; a very important partner,” and we want them back in business as soon as possible.
Meshi is confident the restaurant will be back in business in the next few days.