Fire closes VFW

Investigation ongoing, repair work on hold

FLINT TOWNSHIP – Swartz Creek VFW Post 3720 will remain closed, but for how long is anyone’s guess.

The post, which also houses the local AmVets, sustained damage in a kitchen fire Nov. 7.

“It started in portable fryer that we use for small orders,” said post Commander Eric Johnson.

The VFW had purchased the commercial grade fryer six months earlier, he said.

“The bartender had plugged it in and put it on low and, within 15 minute, it was at a rolling boil,” said Johnson. It never does that even on high. It was wanting to roll right out of the fryer.

“It was so hot she didn’t dare reach across to try to shut it off. She pulled the plug and, as soon as she did, it went up.”

The fire didn’t spread far, but the smoke filtered into the insulation and fire suppression foam is “everywhere,” Johnson said.

“The cost (for repairs) adds up quick,” he said. “Just to clean the electronics – lottery machines, cash registers, refrigeration equipment – is going to cost $15,000. All the insulation has to come out of the attic.”

The biggest expense will be the kitchen itself, which will have to be rebuilt to current codes.

“The biggest thing is for people to support us when we do reopen for fish fries and hamburger nights,” said Johnson. “That’s the best way they can show their support because those food nights – Monday, Wednesday and Friday – are open to the public and that’s how we make our money.”

The VFW has insurance, which will pay for repairs and reimburse the organization for lost sales.

American Legion Post 294 in Clayton Township and other VFW posts are also pitching in when possible, allowing folks who rented the VFW hall to use their facilities.

Presently, the insurance company is still investigating. When they are finished, the clean-up company will do its thing and the bar and hall should be back up and running three to four weeks later, Johnson said.

Once repairs get underway in the kitchen, it will take four to six months to get the food service going again, he said.

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