By DON O'BRIEN
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
No one was injured Friday night as a popular bar and grill on Quincy's north side caught fire.
Around two dozen people were able to escape safely from O'Shea's Bar and Grill, 339 Cedar, when the structure caught fire around 9:40 p.m. It took members of the Quincy Fire Department about 45 minutes to contain the four-alarm blaze. Most of the smoke and fire could be seen coming from a vacant apartment on the second floor of the structure.
"As crews arrived, we spread out through the building and crews got up to the second floor and starting pulling the ceiling," Quincy Fire Chief Joe Henning said. "Two different crews found fire in two different spots up in the ceiling, so it had already kind of gotten hold in the attic."
The building has been a grocery store and bar over the years. Stan Whelan and Ted Wemhoener opened O'Shea's on Jan. 27, 2011.
"It's devastating," Whelan said as he stood across the street and watched more than three dozen members of the Quincy Fire Department work on the building, which is on the corner of Fourth and Cedar. "There are just no words to say."
Whelan said this was the first business that he's owned. He said that they had done significant remodeling to the building and were ready to start remodeling the apartment on the second floor in a few weeks. Those plans will have to be put on hold. Firefighters had to tear open part of the roof in order to fight the blaze.
Henning said they have not determined how the fire started.
"With the building being occupied, it's anyone's guess," Henning said. "I don't even know if the fire was in the ceiling of the first floor or the second floor."
James Whelan, who is Stan's son and works as a bartender, was tending bar at the time of the fire. He believes the fire started when a fuse blew near the beer garden. He said that everyone in the building exited quickly and that no one was hurt.
"We were drinking a beer and having a good time and all of the sudden smokes come rolling in," said Michael Broemmer, a regular at O'Shea's who had just finished having dinner.
Broemmer said he never felt like he was in any danger.
"The crew did a great job of getting us out safely," he said.
Henning said the building had sustained smoke and water damage. He said there might be some structural damage on the second floor.
Stan Whelan plans to have the bar reopen as soon as possible.
"O'Shea's was the talk of the town," he said.
Traffic on Fourth Street, a one-way that goes north, was blocked for more than two hours because of the fire. Also assisting at the scene were members of the Quincy Police Department and the Adams County EMS.