OCEAN CITY — Four people, including two Ocean City firemen, were injured in a Tuesday morning blaze at a downtown restaurant and brew pub that sent billowing smoke across the area and shut down the downtown area for hours.
Around 9:50 a.m. on Tuesday, Ocean City Communications received a call on a reported fire at de Lazy Lizard Brew Pub on the corner of 1st Street and Philadelphia Ave. Ocean City Fire Department personnel responded and found fire coming from the building’s interior. First arriving units were advised that people were trapped in the building, resulting in two immediate rescues. Three victims, including two members of the Ocean City Fire Department, were treated on the scene for non-life-threatening injuries and later transported to area hospitals. One additional victim was treated and released on the scene.
Thick smoke drifting from the blaze on a south wind clogged the downtown area and could be seen for miles along the approach to the resort from West Ocean City. Fire Department personnel battled the fire, which escalated to a third alarm, for over two hours. Assisting the OCFD with the call were units from Berlin, Bethany Beach, Showell, Ocean Pines and Roxana. Additional fire department personnel from mutual agencies also assisted with other calls in the resort area during the incident.
Fire crews and equipment blocked much of the downtown area from around 2nd Street south during the fire and access to the downtown area and the Route 50 bridge was blocked for hours. Complicating the traffic issue somewhat was the continuing work on St. Louis Ave. although access to the Route 50 Bridge would not have been open even if St. Louis Ave. was accessible because of the location of the building fire.
Shortly after noon, the fire was brought under control. The historic building is home to de Lazy Lizard Brew Pub, which has occupied the space in recent years. The restaurant occupied the first floor, while there were apartments above the brew pub. The apartments were occupied at the time and it is believed those who had to be rescued were tenants.
While de Lazy Lizard Brew Pub occupied the building in recent years, the historic building for decades was home to Melvin’s Steakhouse. According to property records, the primary structure was built in 1930 and Melvin’s Steakhouse opened on the site in 1946. For a brief time between Melvin’s and de Lazy Lizard Brew Pub, the building was home to Dayton’s Chicken, which was somewhat ironically displaced by a major Boardwalk fire in 2008.
The initial assessment indicates the majority of the fire damage was on the third floor. However, firefighters soaked the building for about two hours, so there was likely extensive smoke and water damage.
The Ocean City Fire Marshal’s Office, with assistance from the Worcester County Fire Marshal’s Office, is currently investigating the cause of the fire, which is unknown at this time. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Fire Marshal’s Office at 410-289-8780.