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WMFR inspector rules Rod & Reel Pier fire accidental

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Dave Cochran, manager of the Rod & Reel Pier, 875 N. Shore Drive, Anna Maria, and West Manatee Fire Rescue Inspector Scott Miller discuss the Sept. 30 fire that closed the establishment for an indefinite period. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

    Radiant heat from the deep fryers at the Rod & Reel Pier restaurant that built up in the wall over a long period of time, caused the Sept. 30 fire that has closed the 66-year-old structure.

    West Manatee Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Brett Pollock said the investigation into the fire at the pier, , 875 N. Shore Drive, Anna Maria, revealed the cause. The build-up of radiant heat over time eventually caused spontaneous combustion between the walls of the kitchen.

    There was no evidence of negligence or malicious intent in connection with the fire, Pollock said.

    Pollock said the origin of the fire was on the south side of the structure on the second floor inside the wall behind the fryers. Over a long period of time in a confined space, the radiant heat from the fryers led to the slow oxidation of a combustible material. At that point, spontaneous combustion inside the walls took place, he said.

    “The fire’s unique circumstances did not release enough heat to activate the pier’s fire alarm or activation system,” Pollock said in a news release.

    Finding the cause of the problem, however, won’t speed up the process to rebuild and reopen the long-standing pier, originally opened in 1947.

    Pier manager Dave Cochran said insurance adjusters have begun the task of assessing damage and getting estimates for repair.

  •     Anna Maria building official Bob Welch said repair costs would have to conform to the 2010 building codes adopted by the city.

8 Responses to WMFR inspector rules Rod & Reel Pier fire accidental

  1. jacknclaire says:

    We bought our fiery t-shirts, we sent a small donation (and our hearts swell seeing how the community is embracing the pier employees)and are watching the pier progress every step of the way because, although we only spend about a month each year on the island, most of those days in some way involve the Rod and Reel.

    Note to city building officials and pier owner: Please work together to maintain the homey, non-cookie cutter vibe of the pier. Make it safe, but don’t make it tourist beautiful. There is no need and most any attempts to upgrade would only likely dilute that Old Florida vibe. The pier is like the most beautiful woman in the world playing barefoot and carefree on the beach. To change her would be like forcing that woman to wear stilettos and false eyelashes on the sand. Let the pier be the pier.

    All the best to Anna Maria and everyone who makes Rod and Reel its funky, glorious self.

  2. rene tant says:

    We too spend a month a year on the Island and will miss the ‘Rod and Reel’ this year, how do I find out about the T Shirts?

  3. David Gunn says:

    We back you on your words 100%. The Rod and Reel has to stay like it was.

  4. Yvonne & Vera says:

    We fly over 3000 miles to come to Anna Maria every year, but this year have not been able to do so, but imagine coming and then finding our favourite place closed?! Hopefully next year it will be up and running and, like all the previous comments, please please keep it authentic and, yes, leave some scorch marks, keep the wobbly tabe at the end that we like to sit at, and we hope the staff will be taken care of and we will see them all next year.

  5. Yvonne & Vera says:

    Where can we buy the T Shirts please?

  6. Deb Stritzel says:

    100% in agreement with all of the previous comments. I just found out about the fire today when a co-worker of mine, who arrived on Anna Maria yesterday after I recommended visiting there, called and told me about the Rod & Reel. Please restore it to the laid back cool place it’s been for the last 28 years we’ve been visiting! How can we help?

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