Fire ravages T.J. Willie’s kitchen area

A fire early Friday morning at T.J. Willie’s destroyed the restaurant’s kitchen and caused heat and smoke damage throughout the business.

Tiffin Fire Chief William Ennis said firefighters were dispatched to the restaurant at 2:34 a.m. after Tiffin Police officer Scott McDole discovered the fire while on routine patrol.

When firefighters arrived at T.J. Willie’s, 738 W. Market St., heavy smoke was coming from the restaurant’s roof. After forcing entry into the business, the kitchen was found engulfed in fire, Ennis said.

Ennis said the fire was under control by 3:10 a.m., and was completely out at 4:06 a.m.

He said 19 firefighters responded to the second-alarm fire, which started in the cooking area of the kitchen, Ennis said.

“The kitchen was totally destroyed,” he said. “And there was a lot of heat and smoke damage throughout the rest of the restaurant.”

Shoe Sensation, a business connected to T.J. Willie’s, sustained heavy smoke damage, Ennis said. It was closed Friday.

Michael Fratus, director of operations of Visconsi Co., the management company of Westgate Village Shopping Center, said the businesses next to Shoe Sensation did not sustain damage. He was unsure of the extent of damage to Shoe Sensation.

Ennis said although a cause of the fire has not been determined yet, it appears to be accidental.

Ennis said the state fire marshal has been contacted to assist in the investigation.

No injuries were reported, Ennis said.

Doug Dunlap, the owner of T.J. Willie’s, said the clean-up will begin today inside the restaurant.

He was unsure how long the process will take, but said he intends to re-open the restaurant.

“It could be a couple of months,” Dunlap said.

Dunlap said the restaurant opened in 1983.