Oceanside CA— At 8:41pm, Tuesday June 30, 2015, Oceanside Firefighters responded to reports of a fire at Fratelli’s Italian Kitchen and Catering, 3915 Mission Ave.
“Everything was normal then smoke started coming from the ceiling.” said Rubicel Antonio, an employee at Fratelli’s “So we just got everyone out.” Antonio said there were about twenty people, including staff, in the restaurant when the smoke began to show.
“We were on the scene in less than four minutes. When we got here, we didn’t have anything showing from the outside but as soon as we got inside the structure, we had smoke starting to come down from the attic and roof area.” explained Oceanside Fire Department Battalion Chief, Peter Lawrence.
“Crews quickly went inside and began pulling walls and went up to the roof and started to look for obvious signs of fire.” continued the Chief “Ultimately we found the fire running in the wall behind the pizza ovens. The fire ran from behind the ovens all the way up to the roof line.”
As more units arrived, additional crews were sent to the roof and used thermal imaging cameras to look for any heat. Crews attempting to locate the fire inside the restaurant were hampered by the sheer volume of heat sources associated with the restaurant.
Each oven and cooking surface masked any ability to see or feel for heat in the walls behind it. In order to minimize damage, crews judiciously opened up sections of wall in the kitchen and also at the roof line and were finally able to locate the fire burning inside the wall behind the tiled cooking area. Hose lines placed inside and outside the structure were able to quickly extinguish the fire once it was finally located and the fire was declared under control at 9:23 pm, 42 minutes after it was first reported.
Once the fire was extinguished, crews then began the task of ensuring it had not extended beyond the wall area, as well as exhausted the smoke from the restaurant and pushed residual water from the floors to the outside.
Fire crews contained the fire to that wall with some minor water damage plus damage to where firefighters had to pull the wall along with some damage to restaurant equipment.
Chief Lawrence said the response was about an alarm and a half with six engines, two trucks, two ambulances, two chiefs and about 32 total firefighters assigned to the incident including units from the Vista Fire Department.
There were no injuries to the people who were inside the eatery or firefighters on the scene.
Chief Lawrence gave a preliminary damage estimate “in the neighborhood of $50,000.00”. An investigator with the Oceanside Fire Department arrived and was able to determine the fire was caused by a long term heating of the wood building materials in the wall behind the ovens (pyrolysis/pyrophoric action). Additionally, an inspector from the County Health Department also responded and worked with the restaurant operators on a plan of action for re-opening the restaurant after it is cleaned.
The Fire Investigator and a representative from the City’s Building Department will also be meeting with the restaurant operators later this week to ensure that adequate heat shielding is placed behind the oven when the kitchen area is rebuilt.