New Year’s Eve fire damages Fortville Bonsai restaurant

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Fire Department crews from Vernon Township worked quickly to put out the business fire in downtown Fortville.

FORTVILLE – A local restaurant sustained fire, smoke and water damage following a late night fire on New Year’s Eve, officials said. Several fire departments in Hancock and Hamilton counties were called to S. Main Street with reports of a confirmed structure fire.

When officials arrived on the scene around 11:34 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, they could see smoke coming from the general area where businesses are located on Main Street, but officials were not sure exactly which business was on fire.

One business, 18 S. Main Street, Bonsai, a Japanese sushi restaurant as well as the M and J Firearms business, 24 S. Main St., were both in question due to the fact they are both located right beside each other.

Vernon Township Fire Chief Mark Elder said they were able to quickly determine the fire did indeed start inside the Bonsai restaurant, and said crews got it knocked down in a hurry.

“Because of the number of occupancy’s there in that area we determined where the fire started, but we don’t know the cause just yet,” Elder said.

Fire fighters had to force their way into the front door after finding the fire towards the back side of the structure.

“The back door glass was broken out, and more than likely, the heat of the fire could have shattered that glass,” Elder said.

Vernon Township crews happened to have been out, returning from another call and were able to get to the downtown area within minutes of the fire dispatch call and get the job done.

“The amount of time it took them to force open the front door, stretch a fire hose and get into the building was only a few minutes,” Elder said. “We had water on the fire pretty quickly.”

The building is not a total loss, Elder said, but did sustain fire, smoke and water damage. 

A nearby firearms shop, M and J Firearms, 24 S. Main St., more than likely sustained smoke and perhaps some water damage Elder noted.

“The age of the building that caught fire and the one next door, they all have openings that run into each other so there are several business that have some smoke damage,” Elder said.

More details in the next edition of the Daily Reporter