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Boat Shed knocked out by kitchen fire

Although owner Beverly Hayfield might have celebrated the Boat Shed’s 25th anniversary this year by blowing out the flames on a few birthday candles, she didn’t even have a chance to snuff a fire Thursday Jan. 8 that destroyed the restaurant’s entire kitchen.

The business may be shut down for two weeks or longer until fire and smoke damage can be repaired.

According to Deputy Fire Marshall Scott Rappleye, the fire sparked somewhere near the gas water heater, and was first noticed a little after 7 a.m. on Thursday by a city of Bremerton employee.

“There’s a whole plethora of things that could have happened,” he said.

The fire department determined the location where the fire started by hunting for a very clear V-pattern of scorched flame on the walls or an adjacent object.

Every fire makes such a marking at its source.

The aluminum from a refrigerator nearby was melted in such a way, Rappleye said.

“I am just happy to see that we can restore it and it will be like it was,” said Hayfield. She spoke in her waterfront office surrounded by paperwork earlier this week.

She wants to have the business up and running as soon as possible, but realizes there is a lot of work to be done.

Although the fire was contained in the kitchen, black smoke spread throughout the restaurant, causing Hayfield to discard all the furniture. Round circles where the soot could not reach remain on the business’ floor.

To clean up the sour smell left behind, she has hired a crew to sand down the floors, add more planks and reseal it. Much of the ceiling and sheetrock will be replaced as well.

“It is devastating,” said Carol Brady, the front manager of the Boat Shed. She worked with kitchen manager Nathan Crabtree last week to pull out furniture and intact bottles of wine and liquor from the bar.

While the Boat Shed is out of commission, Hayfield’s 40 employees will have to search for work otherwise to make ends meet.

“A few of us are single parents and we do not know what we are going to do,” said Brady.

In 1979, Hayfield purchased the Boat Shed building with her husband at the time. It was a tavern before they purchased it. Over the years, they built on a few more rooms. Currently, it has outdoor seating for dozens, and is one of the most popular eateries in town, especially on warm summer days.

Sometimes customers pull up in boats and dock at the moorage next to the restaurant.

“Most everybody wants to come back,” Hayfield said, about her employees.

She is waiting until her insurance company assesses the damages and a fire investigation crew completes its work before the kitchen area will be reconstructed.

“We want to get it done as fast as possible,” she said. “We have the people ready to start the work right now.”

Although Hayfield looks wearied by the stress of reconstructing the inside shell of her restaurant, she is still smiling about getting her business operational again.

“It is a great spot,” she said. “I’ve had wonderful people working here and I like the customers.”

Rappleye said the business did not have an extensive sprinkler system in the kitchen because it is designated as an existing non-conforming building and it was grandfathered in under Bremerton’s municipal codes.

“You can’t make them have one,” he said.

Unfortunately, he noted, sometimes it takes a significant fire to install a sprinkler system that could contain something like the Boat Shed fire.

Hayfield is currently negotiating with her insurance company to try and get her employee’s salaries covered while the business is closed.

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