Saturday morning at approximately 4:00 a.m. fire struck a landmark restaurant, the Ye Olde Steakhouse. The log building was severely damaged in the blaze yet the downstairs of the restaurant faired well. The grills were in good shape and ready to reuse and much of the chairs, pictures and decorations downstairs and equipment was rescued. Luckily, no one was injured in the blaze.
According to Darryl Kerley, Seymour Volunteer Fire Department Chief elect, acted as Incident Command, stated, “This is not a total loss – it (the fire) only involved the storage room and roof – the fire and damage, other than water, was held out of the dining area and food preparation areas.” According to Kerley, The first Engine, No. 504 arrived three minutes after the call and reported “fire through the roof.”
At that point, three more Engines were dispatched and a call went out for mutual aid for a secondary water supply truck as there was not sufficient pressure at the fire hydrant to handle both the fire truck demand and the water sprinklers in the building.
Knox County Sheriff’s Department was on hand for four hours and at one point shut down Chapman Hwy. for a period of time due to the number of Fire Engines and activity on the scene.
“Due to the combined effort of the Knox County Fire Department, Knox County Sheriff’s Department, Rural Metro and Knox County Rescue Squad the call turned out much better than it could have”, stated Kerley.
Ye Olde Steakhouse has been serving the public since 1968. The blaze was a sad site to many from all over the country who have frequented the restaurant over the years, many of whom consider the restaurant “their favorite place to eat.” This is the second time the restaurant has caught fire. The first fire occurred nearly 20 years earlier, according to David King, one of the owners.
Krisitie Russell has been working at the steak house trying to make ends meet and help get her family back on their feet after their home was destroyed by fire just months before. “We were just starting to get back to some kind of normalcy” stated Russell. “I was scheduled to work nearly every day until Christmas so we could have a good Christmas this year and now this happened. I just don’t understand it.” Russell and husband Jason own the Extreme Bean and Espresso on Chapman Hwy. and have three children.
Kerley remembers having his wedding rehearsal dinner in the restaurant twenty-five years earlier. “When we got there as fast as the fire was going – we didn’t think we could put it out because we knew the hydrant wouldn’t be able to handle the drain of our fire engine and the building sprinkler system. However, with everyone’s assistance and cooperation, the auxiliary water supply, and the effort and determination of the firefighters, we were able to save a majority of the structure and contents.”
The fire did not spread to the lower level and the family is planning on rebuilding. A new location has been located to finish off the holiday season and fulfill the many bookings they have. The new temporary location is at L & N Railroad Station at Henley Street and Western Ave. in downtown Knoxville. The new location will be ready for customers the Friday after Thanksgiving, according to Nancy King, one of the owners.
Officials say the fire started from an electrical short. The day before the fire, a fire code inspection was passed on the other side of the building.
The Walmart McDonalds brought a number of cups of coffee for the cold and tired fire fighters. The Knox County Rescue Squad set up outside heaters and provided hot chocolate, sandwiches and chairs.
At the scene, Darryl Kerley was incident command, Chuck Godfrey was operations officer and three sector officers for each side of the building and one water supply officer. “It took about 77 minutes to get the fire under control,” stated Kerley.