Large indoor sparklers caused $277,000 in damage to Diosa, a new upscale Mexican restaurant in downtown Vancouver, on Thursday afternoon after a spark ignited ceiling decorations as about 60 people were inside.
Vancouver Fire Marshal Heidi Scarpelli said she issued a $500 citation to the pyrotechnic company operator who installed six cold spark machines, which shoot titanium alloy 6 to 7 feet in the air like a sparkler, without a permit.
“We need a fire operational permit to do any type of indoor or outdoor pyrotechnics, as there are a lot of precautions and safety conditions that are involved in this type of activity – and especially indoors. “Scarpelli said. “They’re advertised on the internet as ‘fire safe’, but we know that’s not true, and it obviously started a fire.”
Owner Jorge Castro said he planned to use the machines for the restaurant’s grand opening, and the company he hired was testing them on Thursday.
Vancouver firefighters responded at 12:04 a.m. to the restaurant at 1004 Washington Street after someone inside called 911. Everyone was out of the restaurant when firefighters arrived, the spokesperson said. of the Vancouver Fire Department, Raymond Egan. He said crews quickly extinguished the fire and stopped it from spreading beyond the restaurant. Approximately 15 personnel from the Vancouver Fire Department and a unit from Clark County Fire District 6 responded.
The restaurant was to open on Tuesday. Castro said on Friday he was waiting for experts to assess all the damage before setting a new opening date, but promised they would work as quickly as possible to be ready for customers.
The fire was near the front door, forcing restaurant staff and others in attendance for a photo op to use another exit. However, Scarpelli said that during the renovation the owners moved the required second exit door, without a permit, and locked it.
“They didn’t get planning permission to move the exit door, let alone lock it,” Scarpelli said. “It caused confusion and delays. … This is a very serious and egregious violation of fire safety and life safety of the fire code.
Castro said they moved the gate with plans to build an outdoor patio, but the work was city-related.
Scarpelli fined the owners $500 for the unauthorized construction work.
“It was really a near miss where you could have had a catastrophic failure if it hadn’t been for the sprinkler system that kept the fire on and off until the firefighters arrived,” said Scarpelli.
Castro agreed that without the sprinklers, the fire could have been much worse.
“We are blessed that these appeared and worked exactly as they were supposed to,” he said. “I can’t say enough about the firefighters and how quickly they arrived, how helpful they were, how concerned they were for us and everyone inside the building. I have never been part of a fire.
Diosa was to hold a soft opening for friends and family on Friday. The restaurant takes over the place that was once Jorge’s tequila factory.
“Looking back, of course, you want your home and your restaurant to be as safe as possible,” Castro said. “There are definitely things we would have done differently, and coming back there are always opportunities to be better and make any place safer.”
Scarpelli pointed out that fire codes were created to ensure that tragic fires that have happened in the past don’t happen again.
“We are open for business in the city of Vancouver. We want businesses to come here. We want to help businesses succeed. And when a business has a fire, it’s not open. It’s the opposite of what we want,” Scarpelli said. “We want strong economic vitality. We need it, but we can do it safely.