Bad water system to blame in Conway riverfront restaurant grease fire, lawsuit claims

Blaze burns Bonfire Taqueria in Conway

Crews were on scene working on repairs hours after a blaze burned a portion of Bonfire Taqueria in downtown Conway.
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Crews were on scene working on repairs hours after a blaze burned a portion of Bonfire Taqueria in downtown Conway.

A faulty sprinkler system is to blame for a fire that gutted a popular Conway riverfront restaurant in 2016, an insurance company says.

Selective Way Insurance, a New Jersey company that funded about $835,000 in repair costs after a grease fire destroyed Bonfire Taqueria, has now filed a lawsuit in Horry County against multiple defendants, including Ashley, Inc., the business that installed an extinguishing system.

Other defendants listed in the suit are Christopher A. Saylors, A&A Hood, unidentified fire suppression installation companies, unidentified fire suppression repair companies, and unidentified individuals who installed and repaired the system.

In December 2015, the defendants installed a commercial kitchen fire suppression system for the smoker at the restaurant, the suit states. On May 9, 2016, the lawsuit states, the defendants cleaned the exhaust system. A fire that originated at the smoker broke out May 28, 2016, and spread into the duct work and to other areas in the restaurant, the suit claims.

The fire spread from the smoker because of the accumulation of grease, the suit states. The suppression system did not operate because it was deficient and not in compliance with standards, according to the lawsuit.

A spokesperson with the suppression system installation company said the business was not aware of the lawsuit and could not offer a comment.

Bonfire Taqueria — owned by Darren and Cyndi Smith, who also own Rivertown Bistro — was rebuilt after the fire.

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The Sun News Reporter Hannah Strong is passionate about making the world better through what she reports and writes. Strong, who is a Pawleys Island native, is quick to jump on breaking news, profiles stories about people in the community and obituaries. Strong has won four S.C. Press Association first-place awards, including one for enterprise reporting after riding along with police during a homicide. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Winthrop University.