WISCONSIN RAPIDS (August 15, 2011)—Alan Scharf of Marshfield, Wis.-based H.C. Wenzel & Sons just might have saved his customer's restaurant, Chip's Hamburgers, from going up in smoke.
Scharf noticed smoke coming from a vent in the roof during his usual Monday morning meat delivery at about 7:15 a.m.
Opening the back door to make the delivery resulted in more of the unusual smoke. He immediately closed the door and made the 911 call.
Wisconsin Rapids Fire Department and Police Department personnel responded to the scene. They announced it was a small fire that occured in the kitchen after hours, when the staff had all left for the night. No foul play was suspected.
The culprit? Greasy rags stored in a cloth bag which combusted and started the fire, said Steve Konrardy, who has owned the nearly 40-year-old restaurant since 1994.
Wisconsin Rapids Fire Department Captain Bob Barteck credited the quick action on Scharf's part for helping keep the "small, smoldering fire" from becoming worse.
"It had the potential to spread," Barteck said. "Early detection all over allowed for a swift fire attack."