Updated 7/19/12 2:57 p.m.
MIDDLEBURY — Arson investigators have ruled that a Thursday, July 19 fire at Mister Ups Restaurant was caused by the spontaneous combustion of bark mulch that had been piled up against the base of the building.
Around 50 firefighters from five area fire departments — those from Middlebury, New Haven, Cornwall, Weybridge and Vergennes — responded to a report of a blaze at the restaurant that was called in by a passerby at around 7:15 a.m. Thursday morning, according to Middlebury Police Sgt. Jason Covey, who helped provide security at the busy scene.
Responding firefighters found a fire consuming a section of the front façade of restaurant, facing the new Cross Street Bridge. The fire was confined to what is the salad bar area of the 43-year-old eatery that borders the Otter Creek, according to MFD Assistant Chief David Shaw.
Shaw initially termed the fire “suspicious.” The blaze originated in an area devoid of kitchen equipment or other potential sources of fire, officials noted. Shaw said the building sustained some relatively minor fire, water and smoke damage. He believes the repairs could be made quickly to allow the restaurant to reopen in short order.
Mister Up’s Restaurant is owned by Greensboro-based Make Sense Realty Holdings, LLC. Mister Up’s representatives posted this on the restaurant’s Facebook page early Thursday afternoon: “To all of our friends on Facebook: We want to keep everyone up to date on this mornings incident. Mister Up's had a small fire earlier this morning and will be open for business tomorrow.
“Mister Up's would like to give a world of thanks the Middlebury Fire Deptartment and all of the other fire departments for saving the restaurant this morning. Thanks to them, we only had minimal damage... We will be open tomorrow!”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected]