Updated: 08/24/2014 11:38 PM
Created: 08/24/2014 6:25 PM WHEC.com
By: Rachel Spotts
Owners of a Village Gate restaurant are trying to pick up the pieces after efforts to put out a nearby fire left the building with severe water damage.
Salena’s may look fine on the outside, but once you step inside the damage is visibly significant. People were in and out of the restaurant all day Sunday cleaning up and transferring furniture and kitchen equipment from the restaurant into a dry room in the building.
We’re told the fire started in a third-floor apartment above commercial space in the Village Gate Square Saturday night. Fire officials say the cause is believed to be an electrical issue. No one was inside at the time of the fire, but the apartment’s one occupant is being helped by the American Red Cross to find a place to stay. We’re told damage was not limited to that one apartment.
The restaurant was flooded Saturday night from the amount of water being used by firefighters to put out the fire in the Village Gate.
The owner’s mother, Rita Metras, said she found out what happened Sunday morning in church and came to help right away.
“(We're) working really hard, tearing down ceilings, tearing up rugs, washing and sanitizing dishes and just trying to clean up. It’s amazing the mess that this little fire made for us,” said Metras.
James Black, the restaurant’s assistant manager, says Salena’s is like his second home.
“I’ve lived here. I’ve slept in this restaurant. I love this restaurant. It’s got a lot of me in it,” said Black.
Black has worked at Salena’s for almost a decade. This is how he remembers the fire and the flooding.
“The water was quite a sight. Poking our heads in at the end of the night when the alarms were still going off and the lights were flashing, and a bit of acoustic tile fell and hit me on the head. It looked much better in the light of day,” he said.
Firefighters used so much water putting the nearby fire out that a water main burst, forcing water down into the restaurant from the floor above. On Sunday, family, friends and staff worked to clean it all up.
“The whole family of the owners just converges. Cousins, nephews, uncles, whatever, friends of uncles, and it is something cool to watch,” Black said.
The owner of Salena’s said the restaurant will likely be closed for another week or two due to water damage.
“We’ll come back stronger than ever, and the margaritas will remain the same,” Black said.
“It’s been tough but everyone is pulling together. That’s what family, friends and staff are for,” said Metras.
We’re told everything has been cleared out of the restaurant, and most of the cleaning is now finished. The owner of Salena’s says they’ve had a few meetings with the insurance company to try and get the damage paid for.