Restroom fire at La Tour Restaurant put out quickly, business able to reopen

Incident highlights importance of evacuating when fire alarms sound

On Sunday, Aug. 14, Vail Fire and Emergency Services responded to a fire alarm at La Tour Restaurant in Vail Village.
Vail Fire and Emergency Services/Courtesy Photo

On the evening of Sunday, Aug. 14, diners and employees at La Tour Restaurant in Vail Village were interrupted by a fire alarm going off just after 6 p.m. in the restaurant. However, restaurant staff and patrons did not evacuate immediately once the alarm — and accompanying strobe lights — sounded and went off.

Vail Fire Chief Mark Novak said to the Vail Daily on Monday, that when the first crews arrived on the scene, “it was business as usual,” as restaurant patrons and the majority of staff were “engaged in normal activity.”

When crews from Vail Fire & Emergency Services arrived on the scene — less than a minute after being dispatched — they concurrently directed restaurant staff to start evacuating as they made their way toward the source of the fire.

Crews found that there was smoke in the kitchen and back hallway. According to a Facebook post from the Vail fire agency, the fire was able to be contained to a single restroom using a fire extinguisher. 

La Tour Restaurant’s general manager Jared Corbin said that the restaurant was fortunate as the first crews on the scene had been next door at Pazzo’s when the alarm went off. The crews, he added “were able to get it out immediately before it was much worse.”

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According to Novak, the cause is still under investigation with no suspected cause at this point. However, it does appear that it started in the restroom.

After the fire was put out and the restaurant evacuated, fire crews “removed sheetrock and checked adjacent units with a thermal imaging camera to confirm that the fire had not extended beyond the restroom,” the Facebook post read.

Eagle River Fire Protection District, Eagle County Paramedic Services, Vail Public Safety Communication Center and the Vail Police Department provided additional support on the fire.

Following Sunday’s incident, La Tour remained closed for the rest of the evening.

However, because the small fire was able to be contained quickly and to one of the restrooms, La Tour was able to open for its normal hours on Monday, Aug. 15, Corbin said. He added that there could be a point in the future where greater renovations are needed to get the restroom back. For now, however, Corbin said the restaurant is operating at a normal schedule.

Vail Fire and Emergency Services estimated that the fire caused around $10,000 of damage to the restaurant, all of which, Novak said, was confined to one of the restaurant’s restrooms.   

No injuries were reported as a result of the fire.

However, if there was any learning lesson from this incident it’s that when a fire alarm goes off, it’s time to evacuate, Novak said to the Vail Daily.

This helps the crews on scene who, he said, when they come in for a fire are wearing a lot of gear including air tanks on their backs and tools in their hands. When there are still people moving around the space, it makes it more difficult for the crews to do their job.

“This incident demonstrates the importance of evacuating immediately when you hear the sound of a fire alarm,” Novak said in a statement.

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