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UPDATED: Damage at least $350,000 to Gig Harbor landmark

Post by Stacey Mulick / The News Tribune on Feb. 11, 2010 at 8:06 am with 8 Comments »
February 11, 2010 2:09 pm
Drew Perine/The News Tribune

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.

Drew Perine/The News Tribune
Leave a comment Comments → 8
  1. I am amazed at people, someone you know nothing about has something like this happen to them and without knowing them or even knowing what happened you are so quick to point fingers. I hope that you never have anything like this happen to you in your lifetime as you may be judged the same way with no regard to your feelings.

  2. I grew up in Gig Harbor and happen to know the owner of Le Bistro and feel that throwing such accusation around is totally out of line. She owned the business for as long as I can remember and put her heart and soul into making it a landmark.
    You two should be ashamed that you would judge someone without evidence. That really speaks a lot for what your real intentions in life are.

  3. guidocarmasi says:

    Luckily no one was harmed in the fire. I am surprised looking at the building that it passed city fire regulations as it seems that fire inspections are pretty tough particularly with business buildings.

    Also where are the handicapped accesses ? How could you get a wheel chair in and out of there for example?

  4. SimKitty1221 says:

    Referring to the first two comments..How dare you throw out blame to the owners. I have lived in GH my ENTIRE LIFE and I have known the family for over 20 years. They LOVE Le Bistro and would NEVER do anything to destroy it. For you to go and point fingers at them is just nauseating. SHAME ON YOU! It really shows your true character when you make unfounded allegations at people you don’t even know. You’ll get whats coming to you in the long run…..

  5. I read the first two comments which were both flip and typical of non-thinking individuals. Was heartened by the responses that followed. Having web access gives most of us an opportunity to voice our opinions and usually such access can become a freak magnet. An incident like this fire should be taken seriously and any rash opinions without knowing the facts is foolish and unnecessary. I have enjoyed the hospitality and ambiance of this establishment and can only hope that the business can be restored.

  6. gigharborrltr says:

    I liked the place but the smell from the sewer plant kind of ruins your appetite.

  7. keester66 says:

    My husband and I regularly ate breakfast at Le Bistro. Debbie’s mochas were superb and the McAlpines are kind and wonderful to talk to. We will greatly miss this piece of our weekends.

    SHAME ON ALL OF YOU who are laying blame on the owners of Le Bistro before the fire inspection is even complete! Until you know the facts, why don’t you try having compassion for their loss rather than cynicism?! I am disgusted!

  8. TamaradaSilva says:

    I’m heartbroken that this GH Landmark, which was a favorite place of my children and I since 1990 – My kids and friends and thier kids spent hours there enjoying the wonderful foods and enjoying Debbie and her children and grandchildren! I’ve moved to NE Oregon and last visited LaBistro to meet my son for a visit last mothers day – I treasure my watercolor of LaBistro and it means even more to me as it is now lost. Best Wishes to Debbie = = =

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