PELHAM, N.Y. Nobody was injured during a Friday afternoon fire at La Fontanella restaurant on Wolfs Lane, Pelham Police Chief Joe Benefico said.
Fire departments from Mount Vernon, New Rochelle and Scarsdale raced to 115 Wolfs Lane after the fire started around 3:30 p.m.
The cause of the very bad fire is currently under investigation, according to Pelham Fire Chief William Stone.
It originated in the basement and the back walls, Stone said. The chief, who raced from home to the scene, commended New Rochelle Fire Chief Lou DiMiglio for conducting operations in the meantime.
Stone said that the fire must have been going for a long time before the department was called.
Firefighters contained the blaze and were able to put it out by climbing to the top of the building and putting holes in the roof, according to Stone.
Its a labor-intense fire to get a lot of guys here to open up and be able to see the fire before you can put it out, Stone said. We had to open up the roof to let the heat and the smoke rise so it didnt mushroom out through the building. Its an older type construction, so it holds it in.
Stone said that 10 people, who were in the restaurant at the time the fire started, were evacuated.
The fire did not affect the businesses that surround La Fontanella, but the restaurant and apartments above it were damaged and residents will not be able to return there Friday night, according to Stone.
The Red Cross was not on scene, but was expected to show up in order to help the residents who have to relocate for the time being, Stone said.
There is smoke damage above and there is structural damage, Stone said. We had to open up thats what the voids are.
Both sides of Wolfs Lane, on Fifth Avenue and Sparks Avenue, remained blocked off up until 7 p.m. While the fire trucks had left by 7:20, various members of the Pelham Fire Department were still on location in addition to Benefico and Village Administrator Robert Yamuder.
As of 7:15 p.m., Pelham firefighters were still at the scene because there were still many tasks that had to be completed.
After a fire is extinguished, youre still checking for hot-spots, cleaning up, dewatering, checking on the electricity, checking on the origin of the fire relocating the tenants, securing the utilities, putting tarps on the holes in the roof, and thats about it, Stone said.
While it will be a while before La Fontanella reopens, Stone commended his firefighters and those from other departments that were on scene and extinguished the fire.
With the good job that the firemen did, its gonna reopen more quickly than normal, Stone said. Due to the sustained, good labor-intense efforts of the firemen, they held the damage to a minimum.
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