Residual smoke saturated the shell of a building left where Blue Smoke BBQ opened for business in Alexandria just two months ago. An early morning fire ripped through the interior of the building causing the restaurant to close.
The Alexandria Fire Department (AFD) responded to 403 3rd Avenue East at 2:58 a.m. Friday morning. Finding mostly smoke, firefighters cleared the scene at 5:51 a.m.
"There's extensive smoke, fire and water damage," said AFD Chief Jeff Karrow. "It'll be a total loss."
A small fire started in the kitchen smoker area when an employee was in the building preparing chicken for the day, Karrow explained. The fire became unmanageable and the employee received a small burn to his hand. He was transported to Douglas County Hospital by North Memorial Ambulance where he was treated and released.
Karrow said the cause of the fire is undetermined at this point but does not appear to be suspicious or arson. Since the building has been renovated multiple times there are different layers of ceiling. Karrow said the fire reached the ceiling area and spread.
Estimated damages are between $200,000 and $250,000, according to the AFD.
Father and son owners Steve and Dave Galbraith were meeting with an insurance adjuster Friday afternoon to begin moving forward with plans to rebuild.
"We are absolutely going to open again," Steve said.
Construction will be done by local companies as much as possible. Steve said being a family business, it's important to support the local community. The company employs 29 people in the area.
Future plans will be similar to the recent design but the Galbraith's will have the opportunity to customize the new structure since it will be built from the ground up. The current building will need to be bulldozed, Dave said.
Additional parking is already a priority in the Galbraith's planning process.
Originally from New Zealand, the Galbraiths have been in Alexandria for 15 years. Steve saw a need to fill a niche market by adding a barbecue joint to the culinary offerings in Alexandria. Seems like the locals agreed.
"Business was picking up, sales were increasing," Dave added.
Blue Smoke BBQ publicly thanked the AFD, North Memorial Ambulance and the Alexandria Police Department on its Facebook page.
"We cannot say how much we appreciate the time and dedication of emergency personnel," Steve said.Crystal Dey
Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.