The Bethesda Row location of Bethesda Bagels. Credit: File photo

Bethesda Bagels’ shop in Bethesda Row was forced to close Tuesday afternoon because of a fire, the shop’s owner told Bethesda Beat.

Owner Steve Fleishman said in an interview Tuesday night that a fire started in the ductwork above the oven.

Fleishman said he was not in the shop at the time of the fire and the roughly 10 employees were forced to evacuate. There were no injuries, he said.

Montgomery County Fire & Rescue contained the fire within an hour and determined that it started in the ductwork, Fleishman said.

“There must have been a buildup in there and it caused the fire,” he said.

Fleishman explained that the ductwork is a channel used to release heat generated by the oven from the building. It runs about 30 feet out of the back door and another 40 to 50 feet to the roof, he said.


Fire & Rescue Battalion Chief Daniel Ogren said Tuesday night that firefighters were dispatched at 3:20 p.m. Tuesday for a call of an auto fire near a parking garage in Bethesda Row. Firefighters later realized the smoke was coming from the building on Bethesda Avenue that contains Bethesda Bagels and Quartermaine Coffee Roasters.

Ogren said duct fires are common near food preparation areas due to the buildup of contaminants and other waste byproducts from the kitchen.

“We see this a lot in the duct systems over fryers and over stovetops,” he said.


Fleishman said there was only minor water damage from the firehoses used to extinguish the smoke, but the shop will remain closed at least through the rest of the week so the ductwork can be repaired. Bethesda Bagels must also receive approval from the county’s health department to reopen.

“We are shooting for [reopening] Friday, but relying on the contractors to clean [the ductwork] entirely and then have to get it sealed and rewelded where the fire department cut it open,” he said.

Fleishman said he is thankful the fire wasn’t worse and encouraged customers to visit Bethesda Bagels’ new location in Wildwood shopping center.


Dan Schere can be reached at