Late last week, a fire broke out during the early hours of the morning directly outside a restaurant located in downtown Waynesburg, before spreading through the lower level of the building.
Hot Rod’s House of Bar-B-Que, a restaurant located on S Morris St., caught fire Thursday, Sept. 6. According to Jeff Marshall, Waynesburg-Franklin Fire Chief, the local fire department was notified at 3:46 a.m. by a neighbor who saw the fire behind the building.
“Initially, when we got [to the fire], there were two dumpsters outside burning,” Marshall said. “The fire had made its way inside the first floor of the building.”
Rodney Philips, owner and founder of the restaurant, said the fire spread to the dumpsters and then into the building from a faulty air conditioner unit mounted on the side of the building.
“[The dumpsters] were located below the air conditioner unit,” Philips said. “You can actually tell by the burn pattern on the back of the dumpsters that the [air conditioner] caught fire, burned through the wood that it was mounted to and then fell down behind the dumpsters.”
After fire departments from Waynesburg, Jefferson, Carmichaels, Rice Landing and Center Township arrived at the scene, along with with medics from EMS Southwest, Marshall said the fire was under control in an hour. But the damage had been done.
“There is smoke damage throughout,” Philips said. The bar side of the restaurant is also devastated, he said. “It’s pretty bad.”
Despite the heavy damage Hot Rod’s House of Bar-B-Que sustained during the fire, no one was injured during the blaze and no other buildings suffered structural damage. Philips said he does not own the building, which puts him at greater financial loss because of the fire.
“It’s not one of those situations where the building burns you make money off of it – you lose,” Philips said.
Because Philips does not own the building and did not lose any physical possessions, he cannot profit from insurance compensation – a rumor that has emerged since the incident. Instead, the fire was destroyed his main source of income and well-being.
“In my case, all I lost was a business, and I can’t afford not to have a business to feed my kids,” he said.
Roughly a month ago, Philips announced the restaurant was for sale with intent of relocating his family to help his son’s bull-riding career. Now, after the fire, Philips said he will restore the restaurant before he considers moving.
“I won’t be going anywhere anytime soon,” Philips said. “I got to get a business back on the ground, back running and back to the business we had before. If we do decide to continue with the sell idea we have to have something to sell – at this point we have nothing.”
As restoration on the building gets underway, Philips said he hopes to have the business back in full operation within three months. During the process, Philips said he hopes to sell food from outside the building within the coming weeks.
“Hot Rod’s is down – but we’re not beat yet,” Philips said.