Fire marshal investigating restaurant fire in Chester - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Fire marshal investigating restaurant fire in Chester

(Source: Loreto Cruz, KFVS) (Source: Loreto Cruz, KFVS)
(Source: Loreto Cruz, KFVS) (Source: Loreto Cruz, KFVS)

The state fire marshal is investigating after a fire broke out at a restaurant in Chester, Il. early on Thursday morning.

Firefighters were dispatched to State Street around 2 a.m. to Wally's, a chef-owned restaurant. The fire started in the basement of the two-story building.

The Chester firefighters said they could not safely get to the blaze and had to let it burn. The fire then spread to the top floor of the building.

Firefighters said the building was unstable, which made matters more difficult.

The roof eventually collapsed.

State Street was closed while crews work to put out the blaze. No one was injured inside.

As of 7 a.m. the fire was contained, but the building was still smoking. 

As of 10:15 a.m. the fire was contained and emergency crews were able to get inside the building.

Wally's takes up the first floor of the building. On top, there are two apartment buildings.

The current owner, Ryan "Wally" Waltemate, said he and his family lived in one of those apartments.

Before an Italian restaurant, the building was a drugstore.

The restaurant was originally called Marcello's in the early '90s. The family who owned it moved back to their roots in Sicily, Italy and sold it to a young entrepreneur named Nick Congiardo.

The high school graduate ran it for two years and then sold it to pay his college tuition.

Waltemate said he and his family were returning from vacation this morning. As they drove up, he said they saw the smoke.

He said it's tough to see the restaurant's legacy end.

"It's like it stayed in the family all of this time, and then, now it looks like this," Waltemate said. "We went through this already. And to go through it again, especially on the scale of what it is now, it's just unreal."

It was Wally's for about three years before the first fire, and it  just reopened in January.

Waltemate said the building is a complete loss. He said at this time, he doesn't see a way he'll be able to reopen.

An insurance adjuster was on the scene at around 5 p.m. on Thursday and said it appears to be a total loss.

"Wally ran a quality shop, and the good news is no one was hurt. But the bad news is we're losing a very good quality business," said Chester Mayor Tom Page.

No word yet on what caused the fire. However, firefighters believe it might have been electrical.

Eight crews are on scene to battle the fire, including Perryville, Sparta and Ellis Grove.

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