Fire destroys Goodhue eateryOn Sept. 24, Jean and Cal Fulton celebrated the fifth anniversary of owning Doc Sawyers Restaurant in downtown Goodhue. Just more than a week later, nearly all that remains of their business is charred rubble.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
GOODHUE -- On Sept. 24, Jean and Cal Fulton celebrated the fifth anniversary of owning Doc Sawyers Restaurant in downtown Goodhue. Just more than a week later, nearly all that remains of their business is charred rubble.
“It’s pretty much totaled,” Jean Fulton said. “Everything in the whole place is black.”
The Goodhue Fire Department was called to the restaurant at about 4 p.m. Sunday, Chief Mike Kehren said. The restaurant was closed that day, but an occupant of one of the apartments directly above the restaurant noticed smoke coming through the floor in the hallway, Fulton said.
When fire crews arrived, the building was not yet engulfed, but there was heavy smoke, Kehren said.
Because it wasn’t clear whether all of the apartment occupants were out, fire crews first swept through the building, Kehren said. But “everybody got out safely” before crews arrived, he said.
Then, about 25 firefighters focused on the fire itself. Kehren said the blaze reached about 1,000 degrees in the restaurant portion.
“The restaurant is gutted,” he said.
Crews were on scene for about four hours, Kehren said. Zumbrota Fire Department was called for backup, but wasn’t needed.
While the restaurant is a total loss, the upstairs apartments suffered only smoke damage. Still, the occupants have not been let back in due to the structural damage to the building’s first floor.
“The ceiling has fallen down. The duct work has fallen down,” said Fulton, who was able to walk through the restaurant with insurance inspectors Monday.
The American Red Cross of Winona, Wabasha and Goodhue Counties is helping the eight displaced people and their pets — including multiple dogs and a bird — with lodging, food and clothing, emergency services coordinator Dianne Thompson said.
“Their stuff was not total loss,” Thompson said. “They will eventually be able to get back in. We’re just not sure when.”
As of Tuesday morning, the cause of the fire hadn’t been determined, Fulton said. The state fire marshal inspected the site Monday. So far they know that the fire didn’t start in the kitchen, Kehren said.
Fulton said she and her husband, Cal, aren’t sure whether they will rebuild. However, Fulton has made arrangements to complete catering jobs she has already booked using the Goodhue Lions Community Center kitchen.
“The jobs that we committed to we’re going to try to take care of and go from there,” she said. “But I don’t know what the future really holds.”
Fulton said Doc Sawyers is “a big loss.”
“I miss all my daily customers,” she said. “It’s kind of like a funeral. … We’re just lucky that it wasn’t any worse than it was. Someone could have gotten hurt.”
Small house fire also extinguished
As fire crews were working to put out the fire at Doc Sawyers, Goodhue residents noticed a second, smaller fire coming from a house just down the street.
Doc Sawyers owner Jean Fulton said as one of the Goodhue Fire Department’s volunteer firefighters left his house to join the crew at the burning restaurant, he left food on the stove that eventually caught on fire.
Fire crews were able to quickly extinguish the cooking fire, Fulton said.
“Oh man, only in Goodhue,” Fulton said. “It was just kind of eventful day, I guess.”