Updated: A.C. Petersen's to Reopen Wednesday After Tuesday Night Fire

Playhouse on Park, Cricket Press also evacuated.

Credit: Darlene Zoller
Credit: Darlene Zoller
[Updated] 8:00 p.m.:

A.C. Petersen Farms will reopen at 7 a.m. Wednesday for breakfast following a Tuesday evening fire at the premises.

Owner Catherine Denton said Tuesday night that the fire, which appears to have started in the compressor on the roof that provides cooling for the ice cream plant, did not cause any damage at all to the A.C. Petersen Farms restaurant. She said the business has been cleared by the fire marshal and health department to reopen.

Cricket Press and Playhouse on Park will also be open as usual on Wednesday morning.

Original Story:

A two alarm fire in the roof of the ice cream factory at West Hartford's iconic A.C. Peterson Farms building sent patrons and occupants of adjacent buildings into the street at 240 Park Rd. Tuesday night.

The fire was first reported at approximately 5 p.m. Tuesday.

A.C. Petersen Farms' owner Catherine Denton said it appeared that the fire was in the two compressors on the roof which are part of the ice cream plant. No one was in that part of the building at the time, she said.

"The restaurant appears to be fine," Denton said, but she doesn't know if there was water damage. She has to wait for approval from the fire marshal and the health department before reopening, she said.

Joe Brower, a cook at A.C. Petersens, said that he was in the restaurant when someone came in and told the manager about the fire. "I came out, looked up and saw the fire, and told everyone to get out," he said.

Darlene Zoller of Playhouse on Park, which shares the building, said she "was having a meeting a smelled smoke." Executive Director Tracy Flater said that a stranger walked in off the street. "He said there was a big fire and we had to get out right away."

West Hartford Fire Department Battalion Chief Richard Winn said he had not yet had a chance to evaluate the cause. The fire was "contained to the penthouse structure," he said. That's where the compressors for the cooling system for the ice cream factory are located.

No one was in the factory at the time the fire began, and no one was injured, Winn said. He doesn't know what impact water damage may have on the other businesses.

Tim Confessore, owner of Cricket Press, said, "I was standing at the window on the phone when I looked out and saw Catherine's employees standing in the lot looking up." He said the fire department had a truck there almost immediately.

Confessore's building is connected to the A.C. Petersen Farms building, but he is hopeful that he can reopen tomorrow because he doesn't have water damage and "you can't even smell the smoke inside," he said.

"It's scary because we've worked so hard to get this far," Flater said. She hopes to be open for classes tomorrow and the Art Garfunkel appearance this weekend, but has to wait for permission from the fire and health departments.


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