Cyprus Grove basement fire started with attempts to remove copper pipes

RINDGE — Just as firefighters were clearing the scene of a house fire at 129 East Main St. on Friday at around 5:30 p.m., they were called to a basement fire at the former Cyprus Grove Restaurant and Lounge on Route 119.

Cyprus Grove, which was auctioned off and sold in early November, was in the process of changing ownership at the time of Friday’s fire, said Fire Chief Rick Donovan in an interview with the Ledger-Transcript on Saturday.

“The old owners were in the basement and it appears were trying to remove copper piping with a blowtorch and not following the best practices,” Donovan said. “The heat from the torch got into one of the partition walls, which caused the fire.”

Donovan said the fire was started accidently and that he advised the former owners, the Eleftheriou family, to use licensed tradespeople for any future pluming or electrical work.

The fire was isolated to a small area of the basement, Donovan said, and caused less than $5,000 in damage.

An updated alarm system installed at the business in 2010 resulted in an immediate response by firefighters Friday, and may have reduced the risk of further heat and smoke damage to the building, Donovan said. Firefighters were on scene for approximately an hour and a half and were able to quickly put out the fire, he said.

After more than 40 years on Route 119 in Rindge, Cyprus Grove Restaurant was sold to Rufus Grason of Rindge at an auction on Nov. 8, according to Rindge Police Department records. Multiple attempts by the Ledger-Transcript to contact former Cyprus Grove owner Peter Eleftheriou about the auction or terms of sale were unsuccessful.

Grason could also not be reached for comment by press time Monday.

According to the James R. St. Jean Auctioneers’ website, the 140-seat restaurant and lounge is assessed at $384,100. The 3,116-square-foot structure is located in a commercial zone and sits on approximately 3.42 acres. The business has a private well and septic system.

Donovan told the Ledger-Transcript on Saturday that Grason has agreed to let the Eleftheriou family remove and sell the restaurant’s equipment. Grason, who is an engineer, according to Donovan, plans to remodel the building for office space.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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