WENDELL, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - Fire crews made an effort to contain a blaze at Wendell’s Farmhouse Restaurant that caught fire early Tuesday morning and spread into an interior retail space.
The Wendell Rural Fire Department responded to the restaurant located just south of Interstate 84 on Frontage Road at about 1:42 a.m. By mid-morning investigators were trying to determine the cause of the fire that charred the back half of the business.
"Upon arrival, we had flames coming out from the back of the Farmhouse Restaurant," said Wendell Rural Fire Chief Bob Bailey.
Bailey said they called a few other agents to assist.
"From both Jerome, Gooding, Bliss and Hagerman," Bailey said.
The Farmhouse Restaurant also extended into a retail store, where Jim Bodan sells Idaho souvenirs.
"We came up to do our inventory and low and behold, it broke our heart to see it burned like that." Bodan said.
Not only does he sell souvenirs at the store, but also he said he has been coming to the restaurant for over 15 years.
"When family's in town and we want to go to breakfast, we'll drive up here because it was so good," he said.
Bodan said the owner is a good accountant and friend.
"We were coming here before Stephanie bought it. She was working here," he continued. "Been coming here every since."
Stephanie Otero said she has owned the restaurant for eight years and has been working there for 19 years.
Otero declined to speak more, given her emotions.
"She has our condolences for the loss," Bodan said.
As the investigation continues, Bailey called the State Fire Marshal from Boise, Jerome City Fire and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to investigate later in the morning.
Bailey said the investigation is ongoing.
He said, "At this time, the fire is not suspicious. We just need to figure out where it started, what started it and why it started."