Mountain View Voice

News - January 28, 2011

Faulty smoker blamed in fire at Dittmer's

by Nick Veronin

A malfunctioning smoker could be to blame for a two-alarm blaze that significantly damaged a butcher shop and shut down a neighboring sushi restaurant in Mountain View early Sunday afternoon, a fire spokeswoman said.

Firefighters responded to an employee-reported fire at Dittmer's Gourmet Meats and Wurst-Haus at 400 San Antonio Road at about 11:50 a.m. Jan. 23, fire spokeswoman Jaime Garrett said.

Arriving crews found flames and smoke coming out of the butcher shop, and about 30 firefighters were called in to put out the blaze, Garrett said.

The fire appears to have started in one of the butcher shop's two commercial smokers, Garrett said.

The fire burned mostly in the building's attic and rafters, Garret said. The inside of the store was unscathed by the flames, but there was extensive smoke damage, with an estimated repair cost of $60,000, she said.

Dittmer Bubert, the store's founder, speculated that the finely ground wood chips that produce smoke for the smoker may have caught fire after the machine's thermostat malfunctioned. He guessed that a grease flare up may have caused the fire to spread through the ceiling and into the attic.

No injuries were reported, but Dittmer's and the neighboring Masa Sushi closed until further notice because a wall separating the two businesses was damaged in the fire, Garrett said.

A representative from Masa said she did not know when the sushi restaurant would reopen.

Bubert, who opened the store in 1978, crafts his gourmet meats according to German traditions he began learning as a teenager in Germany. He has been honored multiple times with awards from the California Association of Meat Processors.

He attributes the awards to never compromising on the quality of his ingredients. "You use the best and you can make the best," he said.

Both his son and daughter work in the family business, he said.

While he has yet to sort out all of the details with the insurance company, the city and the county, Bubert is confident that his store will reopen soon. He said the store might reopen in as little as one week, although he said it could take as long as two months to get back on track.

Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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