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Northstar fire burns restaurant

JAMES BALL, Sierra Sun

Northstar-at-Tahoe’s Summit Deck and Grill burned nearly to the ground early Friday morning after an apparent electrical fire tore through the structure, authorities said.

No one was injured.

Northstar Fire Chief Bill Zahn said the damage to the six-year-old structure is estimated at approximately $1.5 million.

At 3:52 a.m. Friday, a Northstar snow groomer reported a fire at the 10,000-square-foot restaurant and deck, which is located at the top of Mt. Pluto at 8,610 feet.

Due to the location of the grill, Northstar and Truckee fire units responded by snowmobile.

“As far as a response time, I’d say it worked very well for us,” said Zahn. “Whatever we needed, Northstar had it for us.”

He said Northstar supplied the snowmobiles for the trip up.

Once on the scene, Zahn said an attempt was made to extinguish the fire with both chemical and foam extinguishing methods, but that it simply wasn’t doing the job.

Water from a 3,000-gallon holding tank was automatically used by the grill’s sprinkler system, but Zahn said sprinklers had little impact on putting out the blaze because of its location. He said the fire was located within the wall and floor of the building.

“It was a really limited amount of water,” Zahn said.

Northstar firefighters were able salvage a large outside portion of the deck by making a “trench cut,” with a chainsaw.

There was no indoor seating at the grill.

At press time, Zahn said there was no reason to believe the fire was caused by anything but an electrical malfunction, and that California Department of Forestry investigators had completed a report which would be on his desk next week.

He said it is fortunate the fire occurred at night because no one was on the hill. He also commented it was better that it happened in the winter, because snow blanketed the surrounding ground, preventing the fire from spreading into the forest.

Northstar Fire and Truckee Fire both responded even though the grill is not in their districts, Zahn said. Due to its remote location, it is considered part of the state responsibility area of the CDF.

Northstar spokesperson Nancy Barna said a temporary replacement for the grill will open Saturday under the name “The Burnt Pine Cafe,” serving specialties such as the Five Alarm Chicken plate.

And that’s not the only humorous take Northstar has had on the situation; a sign in front of the grill on Friday read “Summit Deck and Grill, closed today for renovation.”

Barna said portable restrooms which will hook up to the septic system should be in place tomorrow.

“All of us are extremely grateful and thankful that no one was injured,” Northstar manager Tim Silva said. “We are also appreciative of the great response from the Northstar and Truckee fire departments.”

The ski resort was closed briefly that morning, but all lifts were in operation again by 10:30 a.m.


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