A fire broke out at Caffrey’s Tavern on Wednesday 5, causing severe damage to the building. The 22-year old bar and restaurant was considered a southern New Jersey landmark, located on the Main Street (Route 9) of Lacey Township. Fortunately, no injuries or casualties were reported.
The incident started at around 9 am, quickly becoming a three-alarm fire. Flames and dense smoke went through the roof, and the rising smoke could be seen from several miles away.
- Firefighters arrived quickly, but they needed around 4 hours to control the fire.
- Entering the building was impossible at first, and most of the flames had to be fought from above the building.
- The flames were almost under control by noon, but firefighters then had to enter the damaged property to extinguish the remaining pockets of fire.
- A portion of the street was closed off to prevent traffic close to the incident
While firefighters were doing their job, utility company workers disconnected power lines and gas piping leading to the property, in order to remove any potential sources of additional heat. Local authorities used a drone to get an aerial view of the affected property, keeping track of the incident.
Although the owners plan to open Caffrey’s Tavern again, the existing building suffered severe damage and a new construction will be needed. The fire incident caused commotion among Lacey Township residents, since the bar was a popular gathering place.
As of Wednesday evening the cause of the fire was still not clear, but it may have started in the kitchen based on the observations of witnesses. After the flames were controlled, firefighters and neighbors could observe that the entire roof had been destroyed. Since the restaurant normally opens at 11 am, nobody was on the scene when the fire started.
There are many fire protection measures that can help prevent incidents like this one, and automatic sprinklers are among the most effective. Contrary to popular belief, sprinkler systems do not shower the entire area with water - only the sprinkler heads directly above the flames activate, since they are triggered by heat.
In the case of restaurants, it is also important to note that kitchens have special fire protection needs. There are many potential heat sources in a relatively small space, and many flammable substances used in food preparation, such as cooking oil.