Basement Fire at Jolly Bob's - Updated

Thursday, May 6, 2010 - 5:13pm

City of Madison fire investigators have determined that last night's fire at the Jolly Bob's restaurant began with oily rags located too near to an overloaded and overheated power strip.

Restaurant staff noticed black smoke coming from the basement. The restaurant was full of diners at the time, and everyone was evacuated with no injury.

City of Madison firefighters were dispatched at 7:43 p.m. The restaurant at 1210 Williamson St. is just across the street from Firehouse 3.

Firefighters saw only light smoke before opening a side door and being met with thick, black smoke coming up the basement stairs.

The fire was extinguished within minutes of their arrival. There was some heat and smoke damage in one area of the basement, but only light smoke damage on the first floor.

An inspector from the Health Department was dispatched to the scene to determine the amount of food damage and other clean-up criteria that must be met before the restaurant can re-open.

Investigators estimate damages at $50,000. The building suffered no structural damage. The heaviest loss is likely to be calculated in food and lost business. The owner of the business is working to be back in operation this weekend.

The City of Madison Fire Department reminds residents:
•Though multi-plug extension power strips are designed to carry more voltage, they can be overloaded. Check to be certain the power strips in place have a circuit breaker built into the power strip. This will shut off the power strip if too much voltage is demanded.
•Never overload extension cords or wall sockets. Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker.
•Carefully store oil-, gasoline-, or paint-soaked rags. Store them in a tightly sealed container in a cool, well-ventilated place away from other combustibles. Or, lay the rags out individually on a flat surface and leave them to dry completely before reusing.


  • Lori Wirth(608) 266-5947