By ROBERT KOCH
Hour Staff Writer
NORWALK — Flooding from the weekend nor'easter may have sparked the blaze that heavily damaged the banquet room of the Ischoda Yacht Club early Monday morning.
"It look like the fire started as a result of flooding," Deputy Fire Marshal John McGuirk said Tuesday. "Salt water and electric doesn't mix. The back room has flooded before. Before the bartender left, he cleared all the furniture. ... When you get that much salt water in there, you get a lot of things shorting out. The fire started very low to the floor, behind the bar, in one cabinet."
McGuirk said the fire is not suspicious in nature. A party held earlier Sunday in the banquet room was not a factor in the fire, according to McGuirk, who plans to inspect the fire-damaged room Thursday to "find out what got energized and what the dynamics were."
Bill Forcier, financial secretary for the club, said Tuesday there was no estimate of the cost of the damages to the building, which is located at 138 Water St. Forcier planned to return to the building Tuesday evening.
"The last time I heard, there was an electrician down there, and they were trying to get the fire marshal to let us at least open the bar," Forcier said. "We'll probably know more (today). Things like this do happen. It affects everybody (in a club) with a membership of 250 people."
McGuirk described damage to the banquet room as significant. He said portions of the structure sustained heavy smoke and heat damage. At the same time, the banquet room will not need to be torn down and other portions, including the main bar and dining room, may reopen after repair and other work, according to McGuirk.
"They'll replace the rafters," McGuirk said. "There's a lot of cleaning to do. (They must) separate and make sure all the electricity is good."
McGuirk said the Fire Department received the alarm for the blaze at 1:11 a.m. Monday. Wind from the storm pushed the flames into one portion of the building. Overall, 30 firefighters arrived at the scene, he said.
"By the time firefighters had got there, the fire had extended up the wall and into the ceiling space," McGuirk said. "The first engine that got there worked really quickly. They made an excellent stop in suppressing the fire immediately, very quickly locating and extinguishing the fire, under difficult conditions."