Tears of fire at The Island Cow restaurant in Sanibel


Fire and smoke wreaked havoc at Sanibel’s beloved Island Cow on Saturday night.

Flames and smoke were seen rising from the rooftop of the restaurant. At least 10 fire engines and three ambulances were at the scene.

According to a former employee, the fire started shortly before midnight Saturday. Warning tape now surrounds the restaurant while fire crews clean up the place.

WINK News spoke to former employee Retta Crank, who lives on the island, and said she rushed the restaurant as soon as she heard it was on fire.

She shared a video of the fire that showed smoke billowing from the building.

A picture inside Al-Baqara Island after the fire on Saturday, August 6th. (Credit: Retta Crank)

Karnak also shared a photo of the inside of the restaurant, where there is extensive damage from the flames.

Karnak said she was glad no one was hurt. “People were out of work. The cleaner was inside. And he noticed the fires were burning where the pilot light was. And it was really fast after that. It’s an old building. Like I can’t tell we’re surprised.”

Cow Island has been a staple of Sanibel for over 20 years.

“In one texting work app, he said, ‘Go back to back, the island cow is on fire.’ So we hopped in our car and got wet because I knew this was huge,” Karnak said. “I worked there when the other machine broke down, and we lost donuts for two weeks, and that was terrible. I can’t imagine what people are going to do now that they are on fire.”

Island cow owners, Brian and Elke Podlasic, issued a statement regarding the fire, saying:

The fire department hasn’t said whether it has identified a cause, but WINK News will continue to notify you as more information becomes available.

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