An outside section of Salem Diner known by regulars as “Pesky’s Corner” caught fire at 11:30 a.m. by a contractor removing screws with a grind saw, fire Deputy Chief Brian Harrington said.
Firefighters quelled the small blaze, which could have been much worse had winds been moving in the other direction.
“We’re lucky the winds didn’t hamper in any way, (the section on fire) was not on the windward side,” Harrington said.
The section of Salem Diner that resembles a Streamliner railcar is a hangout of former Sox shortstop, coach and manager Johnny Pesky.
Pesky, 89, is a frequent customer of the diner along with a close group of friends. Pesky and company have been frequenting the diner for a decade after their previous hangout in Swampscott closed. Their area of Salem Diner was dubbed “Pesky’s Corner.”
The name is familiar with another Pesky namesake, Pesky’s Pole, the right field foul pole at Fenway Park.
Firefighters learned of the storied nook by customers who had been inside when the fire started.
“They said, ‘You saved Pesky’s Corner,’ that’s where he sits, at the end of the building,” Harrington said.
Responding firefighters opened up the section of the diner and found “quite a bit of fire,” according to Harrington.
A spark or hot piece of the sawed-off screw ignited the building’s framing. Firefighters brought in two lines, one to the diner’s basement and another outside. The fire was knocked down within minutes, but firefighters were on scene for almost an hour checking for hot spots.
The health department responded as protocol, but Harrington said he expects the diner to reopen today or tomorrow.
“Structurally, it’s OK,” he said.
West Coast 911 firefighting news source – The Salem News