Coffee roaster starts fire at Norfolk business

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A fire caused by a coffee roaster forced an evacuation at a Norfolk business Tuesday morning.

Battalion Chief Julian Williamson with Norfolk Fire and Rescue said crews were called to Norfolk Coffee and Tea Company in the 200 block of 18th Street around 10:40 a.m. for a commercial fire. Units were on scene minutes later.

Crews observed heavy smoke coming from the vent stack on the roof of the building and were able to control the fire within 20 minutes. Firefighters ventilated the building with fans, to remove all the smoke that built up inside the business.

The owner of the building told WAVY.com four people were inside when the fire started, but no one was hurt.

Williamson said the business received minor smoke damage.

“We won’t lose this. This is like the Acropolis in Greece,” said Chris Stephanitsis, owner of Norfolk Coffee and Tea Company. “It’s going to stand for the next 300 years. We’re going to be gone, but the building is still going to be here.”

Stephanitsis’ grandparents started the family business in 1918 and his father built the current store in the 1950s.

Williamson said the cause of the fire is under investigation, but Stephanitsis said the fire started in a coffee roaster.

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