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Posted December 3, 2011 | comments Leave a comment

Restaurant fire traced to freezer

Camino Real hit with smoke and heat damage

By Candace Sipos -- csipos@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- City fire marshals have determined the cause of a blaze that broke out at Camino Real restaurant Thursday evening to be accidental, originating from a freezer unit in the basement.

The Fire and Rescue Department responded to a call to 928 Berryville Ave. just after 5 p.m., according to an agency news release. When workers arrived on the scene only two minutes later, heavy smoke was inside the structure and coming from the roof.

They found the fire in the basement, and were able to contain the flames to that level. However, an estimated $100,000 in heat, smoke and water damage spread throughout the restaurant, the release states.

After completing "an aggressive interior fire attack," the fire was declared to be under control 40 minutes later. The last units left the scene a few minutes after 8 p.m.

Health department officials deemed the building to be uninhabitable for business.

According to the release, one occupant was evaluated for possible smoke inhalation but no firefighters were injured.

Benjamin Ramos has owned the business and the building in Winchester for the past 10 years, and rented the same building for five years prior to that. His brother has owned the other Camino Real location at 16 Crow St. in Berryville for 14 years, but he rents that property, Ramos said.

He doesn't agree with the fire department's estimate of the damage, saying he believes it's closer to $70,000 or $80,000. But he wanted to shut down the building for a month to remodel prior to the incident, so he's taking this opportunity to do so.

"The fire come up so it help me," he said Friday. "Camino Real will open back up soon. We don't know when. It's the city's decision."

He said he plans to remodel the entire building in the next couple weeks, but he has to wait for the health department to give him clearance before he can re-open. He said his insurance company will pay for everything.

According to Ramos, the restaurant was closed when the fire broke out because the electricity, serviced by Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, went out around 1 p.m. Thursday at several businesses along that stretch of Berryville Avenue. The fire started right after the power came back on around 5 p.m., he said.

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