Fire damages Mount Vernon nightclub

June 10, 2008|By Annie Linskey and Sam Sessa | Annie Linskey and Sam Sessa,Sun Reporters

A fire damaged the roof of the Grand Central nightclub in Mount Vernon yesterday morning, injured one firefighter and prompted city transportation officials to close lanes on North Charles Street, snarling traffic.

The fire started about 9:30 a.m. and was under control by 10:15 a.m. Fire officials said one firefighter, identified as Daryl E. Caldwell, suffered second-degree burns to his face and was taken to a hospital. A cause of the fire has not been determined.

Grand Central, which occupies a historic rowhouse at North Charles and Eager streets, is one of the premier gay nightclubs in the central part of the city.

Steve Ledlow, the bar's general manager, saw the fire on his way to work yesterday morning and called 911. He said flames on the roof stretched 3- to 4-feet high. Last week's storms damaged the roof, and workers had just finished repairing it, he said.

"It's just a headache," Ledlow said. "Had it been in the middle of the night after we closed, that would have been really bad."

Grand Central opened in 1991 at 1001 N. Charles St. as Central Station. After expanding into the adjacent building at 1003 N. Charles St. in 2003, it was renamed Grand Central. Aside from a kitchen fire about 15 years ago, there have been no previous fires at the bar, Ledlow said.

Ledlow planned to open the bar's southern building, which appeared undamaged by the fire, yesterday afternoon.

Firefighters worked in 90-plus-degree heat to put out the blaze. "It doesn't take long for them to start dropping from heat exhaustion if you don't get water into them," said Battalion Chief Harry T. Wenger, who described the weather conditions as "miserable."

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