DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - Action 2 News received a number of calls just after 3:30 Tuesday afternoon regarding a major traffic jam in De Pere, the callers asking for answers. The traffic jam was due to an emergency at Nicky's Lionhead Restaurant on Main Avenue.
Fire truck on Main Ave. responding to Nicky's Lion Head restaurant fire (WBAY photo)
De Pere Police shut down the Main Avenue Bridge’s westbound lane for about an hour due to a fire inside the restaurant.
The shutdown caused backup in the eastbound lane of the bridge, and the traffic jam spread to other areas downtown.
The De Pere Fire Department got a call just before 3:30 p.m.. Their crews saw no sign of a fire outside, but once they entered the building smoke was seen coming out of the wall behind the bar.
"Our crews worked diligently to remove and tear all that apart,” said De Pere Fire Chief Alan Matzke. “We had fire spread between the walls, but we were able to contain it so it didn't spread to the apartments above."
Matzke says the age and size of the building puts the fire at a high risk of spreading, so he recruited the help of Ashwaubenon, Lawrence and Hobart fire departments. Matzke even sent out additional alarms to Green Bay County Rescue Service and Morrison Volunteer Fire Department.
"These older buildings, they're built close together, so the risk is that the fire spreads usually to the roof is our main concern,” said Matzke. “We were able to get enough crews here quickly to get into the second floor, to get into the first floor, so we were able to throw enough resources to really try to get it while it was really at a small fire size."
The mass response prompted the partial closure of the Claude Allouez Bridge, a major river crossing which feeds into the one-way street, but Matzke says without the quick response things could've been much worse.
"We're fortunate it didn't get away from us,” Matzke adds. “We’re able to get a good stop on it and we're able to get this traffic cleared as quickly as possible, and we apologize to the community for tying up the bridge.”
Matzke says crews worked on the fire for 45 minutes inside Nicky’s Lionhead Restaurant. The bar did incur some minor damage but the apartments above Nicky's Lionhead Restaurant did not have any damage. No one was injured in the fire.