Unattended heater ruled cause of fire at Rosie's Restaurant

NOW: Unattended heater ruled cause of fire at Rosie’s Restaurant

RACINE, Wis. (CBS 58) – A fire at a Racine restaurant on New Year’s Day has been ruled accidental.

The Racine Fire Department says they were trying to unfreeze the pipes with a propane heater, but it was left unattended and destroyed the building. Diebold Thomas was in his house on new years day, when his granddaughter noticed fire truck, and he saw firefighters trying to save Rosie's restaurant from burning down.

"Blaring water down on the roof," Thomas said. "Flames were coming out and shooting all over. And they had the road blocked off up here and over there."

The Racine County Fire Department has since learned the fire started because of how the owner tried to unfreeze the pipes.

"A propane torpedo tube heater was left unattended," Lt. John Magnus said.

Magnus says there are easy steps to keep similar fires from starting in your home, starting with making sure all heaters are attended.

"Keep everything three feet from any heat source, whether it's a fire place, a stove or a space heater," Magnus said. "Don't have that space heater close to your bed in other words."

He also says it's important to get your furnace checked by a technician once a year, and there are safer ways to deal with frozen pipes than a heater.

"You can keep your water dripping," Magnus said. "You also can keep your cabinet drawers open, things like that. Lastly, you can always put some insulation around pipes in the middle of the winter."

Thomas says it's concerning to see such a large fire come from leaving a heater on.

"It's a little troublesome," Thomas said. "You know, you kind of wonder how many other people in the neighborhood have propane heaters on to keep the pipes unfrozen. You never know."

No injuries were reported in the incident and damages are estimated to be around $150,000.

Share this article: