By Edwin Folven, 3/29/2012
Melrose Avenue Establishment Was a Neighborhood Fixture
An early morning fire caused extensive damage to the Snake Pit Ale House on Melrose Avenue on March 26. The blaze is believed to have started in the attic and to have been caused by faulty electrical wiring.
According to Los Angeles Fire Department Brian Humphrey, the fire was reported at 2:36 a.m., and firefighters arrived to find smoke and flames emanating from the building. The fire was largely contained to the attic, and was extinguished around 3:12 a.m. Although the flames were contained to the Ale House, which is located on the northeast corner of Melrose and Sierra Bonita avenues, two neighboring businesses were damaged by water and smoke. Damage to the Ale House was estimated at approximately $100,000, according to LAFD Capt. Tina Haro, but no estimate was available for the adjacent stores.
“That’s a conservative estimate,” Haro added. “We are not sure exactly how it occurred, but there was nothing suspicious. It is being ruled as accidental electrical.”
The Ale House was closed when the fire erupted, and remained boarded up Monday afternoon. A phone message left at the bar and grill was not returned. The Ale House had reportedly been open at the location since 1991. Michael Bloom, a Melrose District resident who was passing by Monday, said he had been to the Ale House numerous times.
“It was a great neighborhood bar,” Bloom said. “I was here a couple of weeks ago. I hope it reopens.”
Natalia Simonova, the manager of The English Laundry clothing store located three units east of the Ale House, said the establishment was always crowded with regular customers, and had been a fixture in the neighborhood for years. Simonova added that although her store wasn’t damaged, the smell of smoke lingered all day Monday, and she was worried that the clothing would retain the smell.
“We contacted our insurance, but we don’t know yet,” Simonova added. “I heard [the Ale House] will have to close down for a month or so. There is ash and burned wood everywhere. Everything is really bad in there.”