Coffee roaster malfunction causes chimney fire at Java Tree, 200+ evacuated

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Fire shoots from the chimney at 540 Commercial Street. Image captured by Brian Mgrdichian, who works in a nearby mill building.
Fire shoots from the chimney at 540 Commercial Street. 

MANCHESTER, NH –A mechanical malfunction in a coffee bean roasting machine was the cause of a chimney fire at 540 Commercial St. on Thursday.

Fire crews responded to Java Tree Gourmet Coffee at about 11:25 a.m. Aug. 6 for a call for smoke in the building.

Black smoke conditions and fire consumed the roaster, which began naturally venting through a chimney that extended 20 feet above the machine through a floor and the roof, sending flames into the sky.

Fire crews arrived and coordinated the evacuation of more than 200 workers from the building and began to fight the fire, which was deemed under control by noon. Due to the extent of the fire in the chimney, the areas where this chimney passed through the floor and through the ceiling were beginning to burn, and had to be opened up to control the blaze.

District Chief Michael Gamache said the heavy timber construction of the building made accessing the fire a challenge and labor intensive for his crews.

The building is owned by 540 North Associates and managed by JCM property management company.

Representatives from the city health department were brought to the scene to assist the fire department in following up on the fire.

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About this Author

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!