A malfunctioning meat smoker at a food stand caused extensive smoke damage Thursday to the Boscov’s Fairgrounds Farmers Market in Muhlenberg Township, a fire investigator said.
Boscov’s officials announced the market would be closed today and Saturday.Crews were called about 7:45 p.m. to a reported fire alarm at the market in the 2900 block of North Fifth Street Highway at Fairgrounds Square Mall.
Muhlenberg Township Fire Marshal James Pollock Jr. said the first firefighters found heavy smoke pouring from the exits. In all, seven companies responded.
Firefighters found a small fire coming from the Jambalaya J’s Dixie Chicken, which has offered New Orleans and Southern influenced food at the market since 2000. The stand is near the main market entrance.
Pollock said the fire was knocked down within a few minutes and was contained to the chicken stand. Three maintenance workers inside at the time of the fire attempted to put it out with extinguishers but were unsuccessful, he said.
Meat inside a smoker at the stand caught fire after the appliance malfunctioned, said Pollock, who ruled the blaze accidental.
Pollock said the biggest issue now is the heavy smoke damage throughout the building. A Berks County health inspector was on scene, working with Boscov’s representatives to determine what food products would have to be discarded and what could be salvaged.
Nearly 60 stand operators in the market were being notified late Thursday about the fire. Berks Fire Water Restorations were also on the scene helping with cleanup efforts.