Sprinklers swamp coffee shop after fire
An owner of the Porpoura Coffee House got a vague phone call from the authorities about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday. "All they said was, 'Porpoura has water,'" Sarah Heitkamp said. The call didn't prepare Heitkamp or her business partner, Richelle Mewes, f...
An owner of the Porpoura Coffee House got a vague phone call from the authorities about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday.
"All they said was, 'Porpoura has water,'" Sarah Heitkamp said.
The call didn't prepare Heitkamp or her business partner, Richelle Mewes, for the 2 to 3 inches of water covering the floor of their coffee shop at 8 S. Third St.
An early morning kitchen fire in a second-story apartment triggered the building's sprinkler system, which extinguished the flames but unleashed a flood on Porpoura.
When Heitkamp and Mewes arrived, they found that waterlogged ceiling tiles had fallen to the floor, leaving "piles of wet muck splattered everywhere," Heitkamp said.
"But we've been Steamatic-ing since about 5 a.m.," she said.
Professional cleaners extracted the water and brought industrial fans and dehumidifiers to dry the coffeehouse. Porpoura employees with rags and spray bottles also helped tame the mess.
Shortly after lunch, as Heitkamp, 33, and Mewes, 36, took a breather on a comfy couch, a lady walked into the shop.
"We're sorry, we're closed today," Mewes told her. "There's coupons on the door if you want to grab some."
Saying no to business has been tough, they said.
"This morning, we were so busy, and people wanted coffee, and we were turning them away," Heitkamp said.
But they acknowledge the situation could be worse: The man in the apartment above was not harmed, and except for maybe a refrigerated display case, the water did not damage Porpoura's equipment.
Fire damage in the kitchen of the apartment and smoke damage throughout is predicted to be about $25,000, the fire department said. Heitkamp and Mewes, who rent their space, said they've not yet gotten a damage estimate. Next door, Trojan Promotions had no damage, and True Colors had some minor water damage, Mewes said.
Firefighters found light smoke and water coming from the apartment shortly after 4 a.m. Police assisted in evacuating the building, the fire department said.
The department said the man in the apartment was protected from the smoke by sleeping with his bedroom door closed. The fire's cause remains under investigation.
Porpoura plans to reopen Thursday.
Reach Ingersoll at (701) 780-1269; (800) 477-6572, ext. 269; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .