ire causes $40,000 damage to coffee house

[bold on]Robert Koch[bold off][fm][bold on][bold off][bold on][bold off]
Staff Reporter[fm]
A fire broke out early Wednesday morning at the Borealis Caffe in Dinkytown, burning little but triggering a sprinkler system to flood the restaurant.
“Two employees who opened (Wednesday) morning called the fire department,” said Chelsea Harriman, co-owner of the restaurant at 418 13th Ave. S.E. “We came over and there was a waterfall down the stairs – water just cascading everywhere.”
Harriman said the fire started about 3 a.m. in a bus tub on the second floor. Although the restaurant is not wired to alert fire departments, Harriman said she found it unusual that no one reported the building’s external alarm sounding.
“I can’t imagine why, if the alarm was going off for four hours, no one in the neighborhood would have called – just out of annoyance at the very least – to turn the damned thing off,” she said.
Harriman and friend, Pat Murphy, surveyed the damage Thursday morning as they awaited visits from city fire inspectors and insurance agents. Tables and chairs were pushed askew, plaster littered the floor and water stood in the basement.
“With water damage it’s really hard to tell because it penetrates the sheetrock between the wall,” Harriman said. “We can’t tell how extensive that damage is until the majority of the water is drained and out, and we can tell structurally what it’s done.”
Murphy estimated at least $40,000 in lost inventory including food and beverages. Harriman said it will be at least a week before the restaurant re-opens.
Minneapolis Fire Marshall Tom Deegan said not all buildings are wired to alert fire departments. Of the 9,300 commercial buildings his division oversees, some are “monitered” by code, some voluntarily, and others not at all.
“We wish they were,” Deegan said. “We’re working in that direction – looking at new statutes and stuff to see if we can get everyone on the same page.”
At monitored businesses, smoke detectors and sprinkler systems trip alarms at commercial 9-1-1 dispatch centers. The centers send out fire crews immediately.
The Borealis Caffe opened as a coffee house in January. Since then, it has added a kitchen, a bar and live music.

[italic on]Robert Koch covers police and courts [italic off][italic on]and welcomes comments at [italic off][italic on][email protected][italic off]