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Fire at site of proposed restaurant ruled accidental

October 13, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A blaze last month that effectively halted plans to open a new restaurant in downtown Martinsburg has been ruled accidental, Martinsburg Fire Department's chief fire investigator said Tuesday.

The fire at 200 W. Burke St. originated in the basement ceiling and was caused by an electrical arc, Lt. Greg Hoover said.

The blaze caused about $200,000 in damage, Hoover said.

The fire was reported at 2:57 a.m. on Sept. 28. It spread from the basement into the central portion of the first and second floors and the attic, Hoover had said.

Hoover had said there was a large of amount of smoke coming from the building when firefighters arrived, but no visible flames.

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Martinsburg Fire Department Lt. Donna Harmison was treated at City Hospital in Martinsburg for smoke inhalation and later released.

The building had been vacant for about two years, and was being renovated for a restaurant and bar, according to applications filed with the city this month.

The city planning department last month issued building owner Daniel Helmut, of DC Properties LLC, a building permit for plumbing repairs, records show.

A public hearing scheduled for last week to consider DC Properties' request for a zoning reclassification for the new business venture was removed from the Martinsburg Planning Commission's Oct. 7 meeting agenda, according to the planning department.

Helmut, who purchased the property in July 2005, said last month that that he intended to restore the Victorian-style building.

The property previously was the home of Island's Bar & Grill, and before that it was The Counsellor's Grill and The Peppermill restaurant.

The new restaurant was to be named The Lodge Restaurant & Bar. Plans for the building included conference and dining rooms and a bar on the second floor, and a downstairs dining area with another bar, according to a variance application filed with the city planning department.

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