Fire thoughts

To the Editor:

What a sad thing for all of the good folks who have had to defend themselves from the continuing lawsuit over the fire that destroyed Cap’n. Nemo’s Restaurant in Tremont some two years ago.

And what a sad thing as well for the Cousins, the owners of the restaurant, who lost almost everything they owned in the fire, including their livelihood.

I didn’t know them, but the Cousins seemed like good, hard working folks who loved to cook. It showed in the great food they served. I don’t blame them for being angry and bitter for their loss. The problem is, they are directing their anger at the wrong people. They should be angry at themselves for not having fire insurance. If they had, their restaurant could have been rebuilt by now. Instead, they have spent too much of their time and energy trying to find fault and get compensation from others.

But who is really to blame here?

I visited the restaurant many times over the past 20 years, including when it was Keenan’s. The old wooden building was a non-code compliant hodge-podge and rabbit-warren of spaces.

Paper artwork and other curiosities hung from the walls and ceilings. And there was the always-on wood stove. It was all part of the unique Bohemian atmosphere of the place. But at what risk?

And as for the owner’s claims about being discriminated against due to being a disabled veteran, as a former Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) consultant, I never saw a single ADA compliant thing about the property.

I don’t know where the fire started or how bad it was at the time the fire department arrived, but I think it’s safe to say that if it was small enough to put out easily, it would have been done so by the owners, especially in light of there being no insurance.

It also may be safe to say that the fire chief didn’t share the Cousins’ sense of urgency in taking extraordinary measures to save the structure. After first confirming nobody was inside the building or unaccounted for, it was then the chief’s decision whether or not to put his men at risk by sending them into or near the burning building. Given the unknown construction and condition of the building, I would say it was wise to stay away.

In fact, the fire chief’s decision not to allow the owners inside the burning building might be one reason they are still alive today. Everyone involved should be very thankful that nobody was injured or killed. It’s time for people to get on with their lives.

Keith W. Briggs

Cutler Bay, Fla.


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