Fire marshals likely won’t know until Friday – if then – what caused a roaring fire that destroyed a Gig Harbor landmark and popular restaurant and sent thick black smoke billowing into the sky Wednesday night.
They estimated damage to the 108-year-old wood frame house that housed LeBistro restaurant at $350,000 to $450,000, Gig Harbor Fire Marshal Dick Bower said this morning.
That figure does not include the price of the business, owned and run by Debi McAlpine and her family for two decades at the corner of Harborview and North Harbor drives.
One firefighter was slightly injured when he twisted his ankle, Gig Harbor Fire & Medic One Battalion Chief Todd Meyer said. No other injuries were reported. The business was closed Wednesday.
“We’re looking at several different options” for the cause of the fire, Bower said after he and other investigators poked through the charred remains of the pale yellow house. “We’re kind of scratching our heads. We’re not ruling anything out; we’re not ruling anything in,” he added when asked whether arson was a possibility.
A devastated Debi McAlpine and her husband Ken stood just outside the yellow fire scene tape this morning, getting condolences from passersby as motorists on Harborview Drive rolled down windows to shout words of sympathy and encouragement.
It’s too early to know whether the business might be reestablished, Debi McAlpine said. The historic house-turned-restaurant is a complete loss, fire officials said.
Gig Harbor firefighters received several calls about flames coming from the roof and sides of the restaurant at 4120 Harborview Drive shortly after 9:30 p.m. Wednesday.
When crews arrived, they found the restaurant engulfed in heavy black smoke and flames.
Firefighters attacked the flames from the outside and worked their way through the front door and up the stairs to the second floor. Fire crews say the 1902-built structure was commonly termed “balloon construction.” Its walls were made of lath and plaster.
Firefighters knocked down the flames. They had to pull down much of the interior wall and ceiling to get the rest of the fire.
Le Bistro reopened in late 2008 after it had closed the previous summer. McAlpine had decided to sell but when a deal fell through, she reopened instead, according to a Nov. 28, 2008, story in the Peninsula Gateway.
The restaurant was an old-fashioned coffee shop. It started stocking Australian pies a few years ago.
Staff writer Kris Sherman contributed to this report.