Ocean View’s Thirsty Camel to be demolished after early morning fire


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — What caused the Thirsty Camel, a staple in Norfolk’s Ocean View neighborhood for more than five decades, to go up in flames early Thursday morning remains a mystery.

Norfolk firefighters were notified around 1:47 a.m. about the fire in the 300 block of Ocean View Avenue.

The call was upgraded to a 2nd alarm fire shortly after crews arrived, and 13 different fire companies responded in total, fire officials say.

Crews were forced to attack the flames from the outside, and used ladder trucks from above. The fire was marked under control at 3:47 a.m. and no injuries were reported.

No cause has been determined because the damage was too significant for firefighters to enter the building to investigate, according to Battalion Chief Damon Langley.

Langley said the building will be demolished.

City of Norfolk spokeswoman Lori Crouch said on Wednesday, April 22, that the city is not requiring emergency demolition because the building isn’t in immediate danger of collapse.

A Virginia Maintenance Code notice has been issued with a 30-day timeline for demolition, which is standard. It can be adjusted if necessary, Crouch said.

“The owner has the opportunity to repair (under permit) or demolish the property and rebuild (under Zoning and Building permits),” Crouch wrote in an email.

Fire officials told 10 On Your Side they believe it started in the kitchen, though.

Firefighters say no one was inside at the time, and the 911 call was phoned in by bystanders in the area.

Customers tell 10 On Your Side the restaurant was known for its atmosphere and food.

“They had the best breakfast and the best shrimp I think I’ve ever had,” said Celeste Duncan.

For many people, The Thirsty Camel was more than just your local watering hole.

“I always could go in there and see somebody that I knew,” said David Copeland. “I mean, it was like Cheers. Everybody knew everybody.”

The Thirsty Camel posted to Facebook “Well we really don’t know what to say other than we will be back in due time.. We would like to thank everyone for your continued love and support. #camelstrong

“I just hope it’s something that people can come to and make new memories and have new fun – but there’s only one Thirsty Camel,” said Jimmy Noland.

The restaurant has been closed to patrons because of the Virginia Stay-at-Home order, but had been offering pickup orders.

Stay tuned to WAVY.com for the latest developments.

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