By Alex Lippa
---- — WINDHAM — The Common Man will be looked at by a state electrical inspector after another fire broke out over the weekend.
Fire Chief Thomas McPherson said his department responded to the restaurant for at least the sixth time this year for an electric fire just before 1 p.m. on Saturday. Since then, he announced the restaurant would be closed indefinitely.
“We’ve been there a lot,” McPherson said. “At least two or three times before we’ve had these types of incidents. Right now, our main focus is that prior to reopening, it has full inspection from an electrical standpoint.”
The incident Saturday was the most serious; McPherson declared a two-alarm fire. Firefighters spent almost an hour fighting the blaze before it was under control. No one was injured during the fire.
Derry, Salem, Pelham, Hudson, Hampstead and Londonderry firefighters assisted Windham at the scene. Londonderry and Nashua firefighters provided station coverage.
“This one here took us by surprise,” McPherson said. “We found a breaker had popped and now we’re trying to get to the root of why this happened.”
On June 18, a malfunctioning electrical strip ignited a cabinet, which activated an alarm system and sprinklers.
Then, on July 26, firefighters responded to the 88 Range Road establishment after a ballast in a fluorescent light malfunctioned.
Despite the multiple fires, Common Man Chief Financial Officer Moe Lafreniere said yesterday he did not think there was a problem with the building.
“There are preliminary reports that these fires weren’t connected,” he said.
The building is a two-and-a-half story converted barn, which has been standing since the 1800s.
An exhaust fan in the second floor bathroom was the starting point of the fire, according to Erica Murphy of The Common Man. The bathroom was part of a multi-million-dollar renovation in 2008, she said.
“This is new construction,” Lafreniere said. “We don’t think this had anything to do with the age.”
But McPherson said the age of the building is why officials are taking extra precaution.
“You have to be concerned with the age when this keeps happening,” McPherson said. “There’s a lot of wood in there when it was built that’s still there today.”
McPherson said after the fire in July, officials believed that the building was safe.
“It just seems ironic,” he said. “Everything which was required after that was done to the satisfaction of myself and the town building inspector.”
Now, a full electrical inspection will take place.
“Certainly, we would like to get it reopened as quickly as possible,” McPherson said. “But we’re also not going to rush things. We will bring someone in to inspect the work and make sure that everything is being done to code and make sure that this is safe.”
No timeline has been set for when the restaurant will reopen, but McPherson said the process will take at least two weeks.
While the inspection process begins, repairs are already underway.
The building is assessed at $986,900, according to town tax records. McPherson estimated that there was about $250,000 worth of damage inside.
“There was lots of water damage and a domestic water pipe was broken,” he said. “There was also fire damage to the second floor of the restaurant.”
But work is already being done to repair the damage.
“Repairs have already begun and we’re looking forward to being back up and running soon for our loyal guests and employees,” Murphy said.
Lafreniere said the building was insured.