Landmark Bonk’s Bar is spared from a massive warehouse fire in Port Richmond
If the wind direction had been different, “it would have been a totally different story,” said Patrick McGinley, who opened the restaurant's restrooms to emergency personnel.
The owners of Bonk’s Bar in Port Richmond are crediting work by the Philadelphia Fire Department, along with a favorable wind direction, for sparing the landmark crab house from a massive warehouse fire that belched smoke across I-95 Sunday night.
Patrick McGinley said he was on the third floor of Bonk’s building, in an industrial neighborhood at Richmond and Tioga Streets, when he saw smoke pouring from the third-floor roof of a former tire warehouse across the street. A bartender called in the alarm.
Firefighters arrived at the scene just before 10 p.m., according to the city fire department. As many as 140 firefighters responded to the four-alarm blaze, with the fire placed under control by 11:47 p.m. Sunday. No injuries were reported, and the cause is under investigation.
McGinley said he was eye level with the roofline, and noticed flames shooting from a glass enclosure. Large embers began flying — “some of them big ones.” If the wind direction had been different, “it would have been a totally different story,” said McGinley, who bought the bar with partners in 2016.
Firefighters took positions on the bar’s roof to ward off the flames. McGinley and his brother Tim opened the bar’s restrooms to emergency personnel.
McGinley said the property was being redeveloped into retail and housing. The building where he first noticed flames was going to become a gym, he said.
Fire crews remained on the scene overnight. Monday morning, the bar could be seen, unscathed, amid the warehouse’s ruins.
Bonk’s, which dates to the 1950s, has been open continuously during the pandemic, following the city’s guidelines for takeout and indoor dining. Inquirer critic Craig LaBan named Bonk’s to his best-seafood list in his 2019 dining guide. LaBan is partial to the hot local blue crabs, Dungeness, and snow crab clusters — all served beneath an upturned salad bowl, a presentation he dubbed “the Port Richmond cloche.”
Staff writer Rodrigo Torrejón contributed to this article.