A single-burner portable cooktop at Vineyard Caribbean Cuisine at Five Corners in Vineyard Haven caught fire Tuesday, exploded, and set off a couple of other canisters nearby at about 4 pm Tuesday. The flames reached the ceiling, climbing about 10 feet, Tisbury Fire Chief John Schilling told The Times.
The restaurant is closed until further notice as a result of the damage, and is undergoing an inspection by the board of health. A counter was also burned, and some plastic utensils melted.
The fire set off the sprinkler system and “saved the building,” Schilling said.
Nicholaine Campbell, an employee of the restaurant, told The Times she was in the kitchen when two explosions went off in succession.
A second employee, Newton Waite, said he was outside the front door when it happened. He ran inside to see what happened.
The employees looked concerned, but no one sustained injuries.
Firefighters at the scene worked to contain the fire and clear the restaurant of smoke. People were cleared out of the large patio area in front of the restaurant as firefighters worked to contain the fire. There were at least a dozen firefighters on the scene, wearing masks to protect them from the smoke.
Smoke billowed out the front door, and water poured from the sprinklers, causing puddles on the outdoor courtyard where Caribbean Cuisine patrons usually sit. The restaurant is adjacent to the Golden Bull Steakhouse and shares a kitchen, Schilling said.
Five Corners, already among the Island’s busiest intersections, was even more of a bottleneck as a result of the emergency activity. Police officers helped to keep traffic moving.
Vineyard Caribbean Cuisine is next door to the Golden Bull Steakhouse. Golden Bull was not affected by the fire, and is open for business, Thiago Machado, the owner, said.
“The timing of the accident was pretty fortunate,” restaurant co-owner Anthony Foster said. He was standing alongside his business partner Waite on Wednesday afternoon as they assessed the damage. Foster and Waite had already been planning on opening an extension of their restaurant at 7 Circuit Ave. in Oak Bluffs this week. Until they get approved to reopen in Vineyard Haven by the board of health, they will continue to sell their food out of their new location. They plan to open Vineyard Caribbean Cuisine in Oak Bluffs at 10 am on Thursday. They will serve a limited version of their menu, with the addition of jerk chicken sandwiches and a variety of patties and meat pies until 12:30 am.
Intern Amanda H. Cronin and reporter Brittany Bowker contributed to this story.