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Posted June 28, 2006 EST

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Whale Harbor Inn Burns
A landmark Islamorada restaurant reopened Monday after closing for two days because of a fire. The flames were reported at the Whale Harbor Inn Restaurant, near mile marker 84, around 3 p.m. Saturday, Islamorada Fire Chief William Wagner said.

"Upon arriving, we could see smoke and flames coming from the mansard roof near the lighthouse" at the restaurant entrance, Wagner said.

"Because it was between layers, we had a hard time getting to it," Wagner said. "We put a ladder of to the roof, then pulled some of the roofing material back so we could get at it with a hose."

No one was injured, and damage was estimated at a few thousand dollars.

Initial investigation indicated the fire above the ceiling apparently was caused by a short-circuit in a fluorescent-light fixture, Wagner said.

Fire-rescue units from Islamorada and Tavernier responded, and remained on the scene for about two hours.

"Since it's a very large facility, we wanted to stay on top of it and be sure it didn't spread," Wagner said.

Islamorada's ladder truck is undergoing repairs, so the Tavernier ladder truck was a welcome addition, he noted.

It was the most significant fire at an Islamorada commercial property since the interior of a sandal shop was heavily damaged several months ago.

"We handle about five to 20 residential calls a year, but not too many commercial calls,' Wagner said.

"The village has a fire code that we work to enforce, so a lot of fires are prevented that way," he said.

The main restaurant, noted for its seafood buffet, was closed Saturday and Sunday before reopening Monday. The decorative lighthouse stands over the doorway.

Written by Florida Keys Keynoter

Courtesy of © 2006, YellowBrix, Inc. - YellowBrix