BUCKTOWN — The future home of Fresh MarketPlace suffered a blow this week, when a small grease fire that erupted inside a shuttered grocery store prompted a city inspector to slap a "Stop Work" order on a remodeling project.
Western Avenue between Lyndale and Dickens in Bucktown was blocked in both directions for about 30 minutes around 12 p.m. on Wednesday, as five police cars and one fire truck came to the scene of a building at 2134-40 N. Western Ave., according to witnesses.
No injuries were reported.
Esbin Soc, a construction worker, said he was using a torch to remove a kitchen hood when "a lot of grease under the hood" ignited a fire.
City inspector James Kopka issued a "stop work" order on the project, and posted a bright orange notice in the window of the building indicating that there were "interior alterations to existing commercial property without plans and permit" including "removal of kitchen equipment."
According to Soc, the gas lines had been turned off and he and a few other workers were trying to remove equipment from the premises so future work could be done.
Danny's Fresh Market grocery store is on the border of Bucktown and Logan Square and plans to reopen in October as a Fresh MarketPlace after undergoing a full-scale renovation.
Reached by email Thursday, Paul Marinis said that "the grease fire was caused by uncleanliness over the last five years."
"We had shut off all the gas, but while removing the restaurant hoods, the store caught on fire. Hopefully, this will not disrupt our remodeling by too much," Marinis wrote.
Bobby Bernacki, an employee in the Department of Buildings ventilation department, said that an application for a work permit for a $500,000 remodeling job was filed on Monday but the approval for the work had not yet been received as of Wednesday, when the fire broke out.
Violating a stop work order can result in penalty of incarceration and a $5,000 fine, according to the notice.
When asked how long it takes to receive a permit from the city after an application is filed, Bernacki said, "It depends on how well the plans are drawn, it can take a week or longer."
Bernacki added, "Unfortunately for [Marinis] he probably will have a big fine, maybe as high as two times the amount of the permit."