ONLY ON CLIFFVIEW PILOT: The good news is that an after-hours fire at the historic Iron Horse Restaurant in Westwood only destroyed the kitchen and didn’t extend to the rest of the popular eatery.
CLIFFVIEW PILOT photos
However, it’s going to be closed for awhile so owner Lee Tremble can have the severely damaged back of his building repaired.
“It was a really good save by the fire department,” a ranking Westwood emergency service officer told CLIFFVIEW PILOT after fire crews hauled in their equipment around 4 a.m., three and a half hours after the first call came in. “It could have been much worse.”
No injuries were reported.
The Washington Avenue restaurant was already closed for the night when the blaze broke out in a deep fryer just before 12:30 a.m. this morning, a source with direct knowledge of the fire told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.
A cleaning crew was working and had the exhaust hood closed, contributing to the build-up of the blaze. Two Westwood police officers who were on duty nearby rushed in with fire gear and tried to extinguish the blaze, but a fireball shot from the back of the building, and they retreated as firefighters arrived.
The kitchen ceiling was ripped out, windows were bashed in and stainless sheeting was removed from the walls, as white smoke billowed across the railroad tracks directly next to the building onto Broadway.
“It’s going to be closed awhile while they rebuild,” the officer told CLIFFVIEW PILOT. “But at least no one was hurt. And the rest of the building wasn’t affected.”
Locals are concerned.
“The Iron Horse is such a part of Westwood. It brings our community together,” resident Kelly Sheehan said. “Thinking of Lee … praying everything is going to be all right.”
Westwood firefighters had nearly instant backup from Hillsdale, Woodcliff Lake and Emerson.
Tremble, a founding member of the Westwood Heritage Society, was on the scene, but CLIFFVIEW PILOT declined to approach him.
Fast by the Pascack Valley Line tracks that give it its name, the Iron Horse occupies a hotel built more than 140 years ago where, rumor has it, Babe Ruth and Shoeless Joe Jackson both stayed.
It was also one of the first buildings in Westwood (incorporated 1894) that had a telephone. During Prohibition, it housed a speakeasy. Commuters often hopped off the train, grabbed a quick drink there, then re-boarded.
More recently, The Iron Horse has boasted clientele as diverse as Lawrence Taylor, Bruce Springsteen, Mary Higgins Clark and Dean (“Ariel”) Friedman.
A family-friendly establishment that epitomizes the local saloon, it has built a deserved reputation for its burgers and fries.
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