September 29, 2022 – West Bend, WI – “I’m devastated,” said Heather Ford, owner of the Braising Pan, 1100 N. Main Street, as she watched what firefighters douse the smoldering remnants of her restaurant.
Standing on the sidewalk on N. Main Street, tears rolling down her cheek, Ford was exhausted. “I’m heartbroken. I don’t know who I am without this business,” she said.
Click HERE to SUBSCRIBE to FREE local news at
Washington County Insider on YouTube
The call came in just after 1:14 a.m. and Ford rushed to her restaurant on the corner of Park Avenue in West Bend. Her employees responded as well, with children in tow as they were met by a brutal picture of flames, fire, smoke, and despair.
“We closed at 2 p.m. on Wednesday,” said Ford. “We know the fire was in two parts of the restaurant and the FD said this was not an easy task because it was a well-constructed building with cement block, nooks and crannies, and double walls.”
Ford moved into the building about 12 years ago on October 10, 2010.
“I want to thank every firefighter who came and worked tirelessly for four hours straight,” she said. “They did all they could do.
“The support from the community has been overwhelming… I don’t know what anyone can do. I haven’t processed that myself yet.”
West Bend Fire Department Captain Kenny Asselin said the initial call came from the cleaning person who is on scene to clean the restaurant.
The caller evacuated the building and West Bend Fire Department was on scene within six minutes of receiving the call.
Click HERE to watch firefighters battle the fire at Braising Pan
Jackson Fire Department also responded with a fire engine and chief officer.
West Bend fire fighters made an interior attack on the fire in the basement, conditions rapidly deteriorated and forced firefighters to exit the building and fight the fire from the exterior.
At 1:38 a.m. the alarm was upgraded to the box level; fire fighters from five departments responded including Allenton, Fillmore, Grafton, Kewaskum, Newburg, and Slinger.
The department of public works brought in a backhoe to tear down the structure to gain access to the areas still burning.
There is damage to adjoining units in the building and the restaurant area is a total loss.
The building did not have a fire sprinkler system. The fire is under investigation by the West Bend Fire Department in West Bend Police.
Please keep the family of Heather Ford and her staff in your thoughts and prayers.
Several fundraising efforts are currently being organized. Stay tuned for details at washingtoncountyinsider.com