About 300 people attending the 10th annual Buffalo Spree Best of Western New York party had to leave Shea’s Performing Arts Center for about a half-hour Thursday evening after a misplaced food-warming device set fire to one of the drapes in the lobby.
The fire filled the building with heavy smoke and ruined food at 18 restaurant serving stations.
The Fire Department responded after smoke detectors went off at about 5:45 p.m., and the building had to be vacated until about 6:15 p.m. as smoke was removed.
Thanks to the fast work of several bartenders working at the event, the drape fire was quickly extinguished.
Anthony C. Conte, Shea’s president and CEO, said inspectors from the Erie County Health Department ordered that all the food prepared for the event be thrown out because of possible contamination caused by the heavy smoke.
Conte said Health Department inspectors are always sent to Shea’s when food is served at events.
By 7 p.m., people again filled the lobby for the event, which benefits Carly’s Club for Kids at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.