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Harris Grill catches fire (12 Aug 2007 at 00:49)
Harris Grill catches fire
I used to think that I had some kind of special connection to Harris Grill because I ordered the very last lentil burger that they ever served. I've been going there ever since moving to Shadyside six years ago (then it was originally under a different owner and I like the second incarnation better, although they should not have discontinued the lentil burger!). But now I have a new special connection: I was eating there when it burned down this evening. Cortney and I were getting dinner and beer to celebrate her returning safely from DC and me recovering the 7th Pure Heart in Super Paper Mario, and we were just finishing up our beers like so many other pleasant trips to Harris, when one of the staffers came upstairs and said, "We have to evacuate! The side of the building is on fire!" I've been in buildings before when they were "on fire" so I didn't think this was a huge deal, but on the way down the stairs I could feel the heat and see the flames through the ice brick glass window... only a few feet from us. Clearly scare quotes were not warranted. Everyone got out fine before the fire really started to get out of control and shooting flaming debris and stuff (props to the Harris Staff for a safe and efficient exit). Right under the side of the building that was on fire is the parking lot, so a bunch of people (somewhat crazily, in my opinion) were getting in their cars and getting them the hell out of there, hitting each other a little bit, as people were evacuating and other people in the various bars in that area were emerging with beer in hand to take a gander. I thought it took a long time for the fire department to arrive, especially since there's a fire station only about two blocks away. But a lot of fire trucks and fire fighters did come. We were watching the licking flames crawl up the side of the building and devour its wooden (!) fire escape, but then there was some kind of hissing sound and someone declared that it was a gas leak, which even though I did not particularly believe this tattooed nose-pierced authority, I still thought it was probably safer to not be standing merely on the other side of the street as if two empty lanes could protect us from an explosion, so we moved a bit further out until the FD got the fire under control. I grabbed my camera from my house and took the above shot of firepeople climing the fireladder. (Click for a much larger version.) You can see the damaged ice brick window I was talking about; inside that burned door where the oxygen tank guy is, is the second floor where we were seated. The Great Divide Hercules Double IPA is a good beer, by the way. I didn't get any pictures of the licking flames but if there is some site where you can search people's shitty cell phone camera pictures, just search that because there were several hundred bargoers around who couldn't stop triggering their fake shutter noises.

Of course it's too soon to know if they'll be able to reopen the restaurant any time soon, but a 3-alarm fire is pretty serious, so Shadyside will probably have to (again) live without one of its gems for a while. Sorry to see you go, Harris!
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Tom 7 (c-24-131-17-8.hsd1.oh.comcast.net) – 08.12.07 00:59:27
Apparently the reason the FD took so long to get there is that they were busy with another fire on Negley at the time the call came in, so other units had to come to Ellsworth.
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Big Chris (cpe-76-178-204-83.maine.res.rr.com) – 08.12.07 01:33:18
Harris Grill was great, one of the best porches in pittsburgh.

I'm very sorry for your loss.
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William (c-69-181-80-160.hsd1.ca.comcast.net) – 08.12.07 01:56:06
Holy crap! What suck...

This is like the summer of fire or something; here in Palo Alto, a bunch of office space above a Subway and a Walgreens caught fire right in the middle of downtown (4 alarms, baby, take that), but of course, Harris Grill means a lot more to me than some random Subway and Walgreens.
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Austin (c-24-131-16-112.hsd1.pa.comcast.net) – 08.12.07 03:46:18
Oh man... Harris was my favorite restaurant! Beer and bacon on Tuesdays was the highlight of my week!
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Nels (cpe-76-174-43-236.socal.res.rr.com) – 08.12.07 12:46:48
This is the poo, I can't believe it.
This was going to be my first stop when I got home. Now I'll have to find another place to find very tiny hamburgers...
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Sophia (76.24.8.10) – 08.12.07 13:13:25
Oh no, I didn't realize I shouldn't trust people with nose rings and tattoos. And to think I have even been friends with so many, or lovers! I need to learn my lesson...
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Tom 7 (h-68-166-207-186.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 08.12.07 13:48:44
No, nothing wrong with tattoos and piercings... I was just trying to point out that this was just some guy, I think someone from the bar across the street, not like a fire marshal telling us that it was a gas leak.
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vinniekowalski (169.240.107.54) – 08.12.07 15:04:12
so you're saying you wouldn't trust a fire marshall who had tats and a nose piercing?
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Tom 7 (h-68-166-207-186.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 08.12.07 16:40:36
grr
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Hamden (c-71-234-202-143.hsd1.ct.comcast.net) – 08.12.07 19:06:06
So, if he had a nose piercing, a tatoo AND a uniform...
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Anonymous (32.145.175.111) – 08.12.07 21:58:23
maybe if the tattoo said ASK ME ABOUT GAS LEAKS
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William (c-69-181-80-160.hsd1.ca.comcast.net) – 08.13.07 01:39:46
an' if he had a big mug o' grog! arr..
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Anonymous (c-67-171-70-47.hsd1.pa.comcast.net) – 08.13.07 02:29:43
i grew up on summerlea street and from my back yard and driveway is harris, we ate there all the time and my family is friends with the harris family. it was a fire i will never forget and the friendly enviornment that will be greatly missed...i have a feeling they will be back soon!!
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Cortney (cmu-211463.wv.cc.cmu.edu) – 08.13.07 09:18:00
KDKA has a story about it:
http://kdka.com/topstories/local_story_224213109.html

I am amused at how dramatic they make it -- and there are glaring errors, like, "customers were rushing out as the firemen rushed in." "It was a Saturday night and packed ..." etc.
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Tom 7 (h-68-166-207-186.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 08.13.07 10:25:28
William, ahah, yes...
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mike (robot.me.cmu.edu) – 08.13.07 10:26:24
I leave for ONE WEEKEND and you burn down Harris grill!
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Anonymous (becket.lti.cs.cmu.edu) – 08.13.07 12:59:03
Reporters stated that 2 Henny Pennys and one lip-shaped urinal suffered injuries.

Ellsworth is not going to be the same. I can't live w/o Henny Pennys.
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Tom 7 (gs82.sp.cs.cmu.edu) – 08.13.07 13:07:08
Maybe they will be able to salvage the urinal, which, after all, was filled with water...
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A friend in Texas (63.97.247.249) – 08.13.07 15:28:00
I hope that everyone that works there will not have to be out of work to long.
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William (scfwpr04.sc.intel.com) – 08.13.07 18:27:25
What about the hopulator! Did they save the hopulator?
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Tom 7 (h-66-167-56-14.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 08.13.07 20:14:26
Don't worry, since that only runs on Saturdays I'm sure it was in secure cold storage.
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William (c-69-181-80-160.hsd1.ca.comcast.net) – 08.14.07 00:43:59
hah! :)
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Ginny (158.72.22.198) – 08.14.07 12:16:38
Aw man...Harris was on of my favorite bars in Pittsburgh--great patio. I was there on Saturday night, in visiting from DC. That is really sad to hear.
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Anonymous (c-24-131-18-182.hsd1.pa.comcast.net) – 08.19.07 01:29:54
God how I loaatthee KDKA.
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