SCHENECTADY — Substandard work by two contractors escalated what should have been a minor kitchen fire at the Stockade Inn in January 2020, to an extensive blaze, the lawyer for the inn’s then-owner said in court papers.
The fire suppression system failed to activate during the Jan. 16, 2020 fire, and areas of the inn hadn’t been properly cleaned of grease by a second vendor, lawyer Daniel W. Coffey of Albany said in a lawsuit in state Supreme Court. It was filed Thursday on behalf of the insurance carrier for Gregor Hotels, the inn’s owner at the time of the fire.
The lawsuit seeks more than $1.3 million in damages from co-defendants Tri-County Fire Extinguishers and U.S. Filter Corp.
Efforts to reach Tri-County Fire Extinguishers and U.S. Filter Corp. were unsuccessful Tuesday.
Tri-County Fire Extinguishers was hired by the Stockade Inn in May 2019 and October 2019 to inspect, test and certify its fire suppression system, the lawsuit states.
The vendor was supposed to test and assure that the gas supply to the system would shut off if the system activated.
After the fire started, the fire suppression system activated but it didn’t put out the fire, the lawsuit claims. That’s because the gas to a range didn’t shut off as it was supposed to, allowing the fire to spread and cause extensive damage.
Meanwhile, U.S. Filter Corp. was hired by the inn in February 2019 for a yearly cleaning. It was tasked with degreasing its interior and exterior exhaust hoods, ducts, and an exterior exhaust fan and the fan’s housing. It was also charged with cleaning kitchen walls, and to degrease and replace grease filters.
The lawsuit asserts that the contractor failed to adequately clean and degrease those areas of the inn.
The fire began when a chef was melting butter in a pan, and it should have been a minor blaze, the plaintiff suggested.
“The fire was allowed to spread and cause extensive damage due to the presence of grease that had not been adequately and fully cleaned by U.S. Filter,” the lawsuit said.
Then-owner Robert Gregor said he was unaware of the lawsuit when reached for comment Tuesday.
A 200-seat restaurant and 18-room lodge, the inn was sold by McGregor to Urban Initiatives Group for $550,000, after plans by Redburn Development Partners to convert the building to apartments fell through in response to neighborhood opposition.