p. Shortly before 10 a.m. Wednesday morning, the south side of Baskin-Robbins and the Blue Talon Bistro caught fire, burning a large section of Baskin-Robbins and causing damage to the Bistro.
p. Firefighters and investigators have yet to determine the exact cause of the fire, although they have been able to pinpoint that the fire originated outside of the building in the corner between Baskin-Robbins and the Blue Talon.
p. According to Williamsburg Fire Department Captain Chuck White, the fire started in a fenced-in area outside where the Bistro stored used linen napkins before they are picked up by a laundry service.
p. “The Bistro uses an outside laundry company for their linens,” White said. “In the corner, they have a little fenced-in gate where they just dropped [the linens].”
p. Although authorities have yet to discover exactly what ignited the linens, it is possible a group of smokers may have been responsible for the fire. Winne Porter, a visitor to Colonial Williamsburg, said that he entered the Peanut Shop at approximately 9:30 a.m. this morning.
p. “When I went in, I saw two people smoking at the corner [in between the Blue Talon and Baskin-Robbins] where the trash cans are,” he said. Porter said he then entered the Peanut Shop, and soon after was informed of the fire. “Next thing I know, I just heard ‘there’s a fire, get out,” he said.
p. White said that investigators had spoken to a witness Thursday morning who claimed to have seen people smoking cigarettes in the area before the buildings were evacuated, presumably the same witness who spoke with The Flat Hat Wednesday.
p. “The witness had spoken with the press, but not with the investigators until this morning,” White said.
p. According to White, all three properties, which also included the Peanut Shop, were occupied at the time of the blaze, although the majority of people inside were staff. “They made a quick attempt at extinguishing the flames and then bailed out,” White said. He also confirmed that there were no injuries during the fire.
p. A Blue Talon employee confirmed that the fire had started outside. Employees of Baskin-Robbins, where the structural damage appears to be much more extensive, declined to comment.
p. While precise figures of the damage caused are still unavailable, White said that he had heard some estimates of over one million dollars. “We’re still trying to get estimates from insurance adjusters,” he said.
p. Large sections of North Boundary and Prince George St. were blocked off throughout the morning. According to White, firefighters finished cleaning up all the hot spots shortly before noon, and a thorough investigation by local Fire Marshals and other authorities continued throughout the afternoon.
p. “This is just tragic,” President and Chairman of Colonial Williamsburg Colin Campbell said. “We will do everything we can to be helpful to our tenants who have suffered such a serious loss.”