CHONGQING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 14: (CHINA OUT) A Va ethnic minority boy of a performance group practises fire breathing on the roof of a building on November 14, 2007 in Chongqing Municipality, China. The performance group consists of some dozens of ethnic minority kids aged from 15 to 18 from Yunnan Province and travels in big cities of China performing dancing to make a living. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)
The motto at Jimmy's Old Town Tavern in Herndon: "Where everyone is treated like a regular."
But the Cheers-like bar may not roll out the welcome mat for the local fire marshal any time soon.
But after one performance in July, the pair was charged with three felonies and other misdemeanors. Now it appears only the lesser charges are sticking.
The bar's owner, Jimmy Cirrito, said he would have stopped the show had he ever received a warning. Cirrito said even though the two had performed the stunt for more than a decade someone complained about the cocktails a la conflagration that particular night.
That someone? The fire marshal, Lt. Joseph Vacchio, who witnessed the fire-breathing show first-hand at the tavern and charged the bartenders with three felonies: using an explosive device, setting a fire capable of spreading, and burning a meeting house.
Now, Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh will drop the felony charges, according to the Fairfax Times. Absent from the evidence, he said, was any trace of malice. Fire, yes, but no smoke.
"They were being treated as if they were terrorists, charged as if they intentionally tried to burn down the tavern," Cirrito told the Washington Examiner.
"I don't think we've done anything wrong," he said. "There's a lot of fire in restaurants. I've been served flaming desserts, I've roasted marshmallows on tables, I've seen 75 candles and sparklers on cakes, and I've seen bartenders perform the tricks coast-to-coast and no one's been arrested."
But the "flaming" bartenders, whose blazes can balloon several feet, could still spend time in jail for their stunt. The misdemeanor charges carry three-year prison sentences and $7500 in fines for each fire-breather.
After news of the dropped felony charges broke, Cirrito said, "We are extremely relieved. The support we have been getting from everyone has been very overwhelming and is sincerely appreciated."
But the effect of any charges moving forward? Cirrito predicted that, across the country, the popular fire-breathing performances will be extinguished.